For people with dementia, art is worth a thousand words

For people with dementia, art is worth a thousand words

Art communicates what words cannot. It reaches deep into the fibre of our beings, prodding our emotions and memories and forming them with a precision greater than language could ever hope. For people with dementia, some of whom have lost the ability to use words, art provides a much needed vehicle for self-expression.

With this understanding, the Alzheimer Society of North Bay and District launched a Dementia Art Program. For the last two years, the Society’s Art Coordinator has travelled to hospitals, care facilities and seniors’ residences to encourage people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to express themselves through creating paintings and drawings . This hour of therapeutic art improves participants’ mood, behaviours and allows for a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. It also incorporates best practices for dementia care, such as socialization and a structured routine. Everybody leaves the sessions feeling successful.

With funding only lasting through November 2012, the Society held an auction in support of the program. Held at the Kennedy Gallery in North Bay on Friday November 9, local artists were asked to donate works of art, which ranged from sculptures and paintings to photography. For a $10 entrance fee, those attending received appetizers, David’s Tea samples, a gift bag and the chance to bid on some alluring local art. With over $5,800 raised, it was a smashing success and ensured the program’s continued operation.

What I find most intriguing is how art can be a window into the unique world of people with dementia. When their words fail, their art can speak for them and allow us to better understand their experiences. This program truly dispels the misconception that individuals with dementia are lost forever. By viewing their art, we learn instead that they are still here, only in different ways

To see more interesting activities for people with dementia, check out some relevant pages on our site.

Ryan MacKellar

Marketing and Communications intern

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