Research shows that art is a powerful antidote. Whether it’s trauma, grief, illness or even physical pain, ProMedica knows art can help patients and residents heal in extraordinary ways.
Terri Lalonde, director of lifestyle programming for Arden Courts – ProMedica Memory Care Communities, explains how art is used to promote healing in our Arden Courts communities.
Staffed by specially trained caregivers, Arden Courts cares for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. An individualized service plan is created for each resident based on their preferences, routines, abilities and interests – often, forms of art are integrated into those service plans.
Art is a gift that provides opportunities for creativity, connection and purpose. The programming staff at Arden Courts develop art events for their residents and tailor those projects to meet their cognitive and physical abilities. For example, Arden Courts has capitalized on a resident’s seamstress skills by introducing a sewing circle that made quilts, placemats and potholders. Other examples at Arden Courts include painting using watercolors or acrylics, jewelry and accessory creation, crafting pottery or ceramics, photography groups where scrapbooks are made from the photos taken, or woodshop classes where birdhouses are made and Adirondack chairs are assembled and painted with beautiful scenes.
“The dementia brain still requires movement, motion and stimulation. Art helps to stimulate different sectors of the brain that might not be engaged by playing a physical or cognitive game,” Lalonde explains. “Art can also help our residents who are having difficulty verbalizing thoughts or feelings express themselves and communicate with us through a different avenue.”
Art invites residents to be creative while working to improve concentration and fine motor skills. Creating can also improve the quality of life of our residents. Lalonde explains some residents can’t wait to show off their artwork once it is complete. “Many residents love to post their artwork on the bulletin boards throughout the community and can’t wait to show their family members or friends who come to visit.”
Some residents will even reminisce the past as they are creating, which helps to strengthen their memory. Perhaps the flower that they are painting reminds them of their time gardening, or they talk about the art they created with their children or as a child themselves.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the power of art. Lalonde recalls a time that art helped to turn a resident’s mood around. “She was really having a bad day and not wanting to engage in the art project. However, after sitting and talking with our program director for a bit, she decided to pick up a paintbrush and begin painting some lines on the canvas. By the end of the activity, she had created a colorful canvas and was smiling and chatting with other residents about what she had created,” Lalonde shares.
Recently, residents across the country worked together on a collaborative piece of artwork for the Arden Courts Online Art Auction, happening September 9 – September 23, 2022. Lalonde remarked that it was amazing to see residents working together on projects and building friendships with each other while creating.
The best thing about art is that there is no right or wrong answer when creating. Encouraging residents to participate in art allows them to be expressive, provides opportunities to interact with other residents and helps to achieve more emotional fulfillment in their day to day.
“The smiles that we see during the artistic process, the sharing of the stories and memories, the complimenting of each other’s work – it’s so beautiful to see among our residents,” Lalonde shares.
Learn more about Arden Courts and the success-oriented, engaging programs offered to residents living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.