News
June 16, 2017

Art Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease

Art therapy is sometimes used as part of a treatment program for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Though art therapy won’t cure the disease and may not even improve cognitive ability, it is believed to enhance the lives of patients with Alzheimer’s, and people report some pretty amazing things as a result of art therapy. For example, Dr. Daniel C. Potts, founder of Cognitive Dynamics, witnessed the benefits of art therapy in his own father, Lester, who had Alzheimer’s. Lester had never shown any talent for art before his diagnosis, but became a renowned painter who used watercolors during his years with the disease.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a facet of the mental health profession. It is the use of art to help people to express and examine their feelings through the creative process. Art therapy helps in a recovery or treatment process by giving the patient a sense of personal well-being and satisfaction. It is used in all kinds of settings, including hospitals, schools, rehab facilities, long-term care facilities, and in community groups.

There are professional art therapists who attend university and are credentialed in the field. Attending sessions with a professional art therapist may have the greatest benefit for people with Alzheimer’s, but there are also benefits to simply offering art activities at home. Both family caregivers and professional senior care providers can assist Alzheimer’s patients with art projects, which can be enjoyable for everyone involved.

How Can Art Therapy Help?

Art therapy gives people with Alzheimer’s a venue for expressing how they are feeling when they may be incapable of otherwise expressing their thoughts. Other ways that art therapy can help are by:

  • Reducing stress.
  • Providing an opportunity for caregivers and patients to bond.
  • Relieving boredom.
  • Giving the patient a sense of achievement.

What Are Some Tips for Planning Art Projects?

Planning art projects for people with Alzheimer’s isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require you to think about your parent’s abilities and what they might enjoy. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following tips:

  • Don’t plan projects that are too childish. Remember that your parent is an adult, so projects aimed at children may feel demeaning.
  • You may need to help your parent start the project. If you’re painting, you might have to help your parent begin the initial brushstrokes.
  • Communicate during the project. Talk to your parent about what they are creating or reminisce while they work.
  • Make sure all of the materials you use are safe. Choose non-toxic paints and avoid the use of sharp objects.
  • Give your parent lots of time. Remember that there’s no need to finish a project in one sitting. Let your parent create for as long as they want to, or allow them to stop if they lose interest.

How Can a Senior Care Provider Help with Art Therapy?

senior care provider can help with art therapy either at home or in another setting. If your parent is attending art therapy sessions, a senior care provider can drive them to the sessions and attend with them, if necessary. A senior care provider can also help with at-home projects by setting up the project, offering your parent encouragement, and talking with your parent while they create. Therapy is a fantastic activity for seniors. One thing you’ll want to keep an eye out on is activities that take place out doors in the heat. Its important that you learn some tips on working with seniors in the heat as well.

Sources
https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-music-art-therapy.asp
http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-04-29/art-therapy-for-alzheimers/
https://arttherapy.org/upload/whatisarttherapy.pdf

If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Edina, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.