At a time in life when older adults generally experience loss after loss, art making introduces new means of self- expression and new possibilities for elders’ sense of identity.
My goal is for participants to enjoy and learn visual arts, feel a sense of mastery over artistic processes, have fun, share stories, learn about each other, and surprise themselves and their community with what they are capable of. I focus on the process of art making, with the highest goal being for participants to feel joy and connection in the moment, and maybe even leave a session feeling like artists.
The visual arts and poetry benefit all and in particular are an invaluable activity for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that the arts dramatically decrease depression, agitation, and the need for medication and doctor visits. Creative engagement facilitates reminiscence, meaningful conversation, and imagination, and triggers dormant memories and emotions. The visual arts in combination with poetry further increases participants’ capacity for communication. Those who normally struggle to express themselves find a way through line, shape, and color.
“For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow