Why Art for Seniors with and without dementia?
- Persons with dementia often lose the ability to use language effectively as the disease progresses and affects the language centre’s of the brain (Healthcare Interactive 2007; 2010). Art can provide a client with a way to communicate without words or verbal language. It is a medium that allows for internal expression at a primal emotional level. It can be expressed with color, texture, simple lines or dots.
- Persons with dementia can often feel lost, confused and frustrated. As such they may act out this frustration behaviorally. This can become particularly apparent in noisy or busy environments. (Healthcare Interactive 2007; 2010). Within a quiet environment, Art can be a calming and relaxing activity for many seniors. It can actively engage the mind and help a client self soothe after a stressful time.
- While individuals with dementia are progressively losing skills and abilities they are still capable of experiencing spiritual moments. Art can be a conduit to help seniors express themselves on a spiritual level.
- Seniors with dementia do not fare well when given activities/ tasks that are either below or above their level of ability. These tasks under-stimulate or over-stimulate the seniors mind respectively and can result in frustration Healthcare Interactive, 2007; 2010). Art can be done at a seniors own pace and ability level bypassing the above problems.
- Many seniors with dementia benefit from regular routine and structured activities as it allows them to be able to predict their day to some degree (Healthcare Interactive, 2017; 2010). Art is particularly beneficial as it can be introduced to seniors in either a structured or unstructured manner (depending on their personality and ability levels).
- Many seniors with dementia may experience periods of emotional isolation as their disease progresses and their ability to communicate with others diminishes. Art can provide a vital outlet for these individuals in that it allows the senior connection between their inside and outside worlds. It also helps family members connect to their loved ones on an emotional level when language is impaired.
- Art can be an exceptional means of communication, enjoyment and comfort, however it is important to gauge the seniors response to the art at all times. As dementia progresses some seniors may have impaired ability to interpret or process color, depth, movement or intention of others behaviors. As such art or art materials may produce fear. In this case discontinue the activity and transition to something more in the client’s comfort zone.