For people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illnesses, speech may fade, but the part of the brain used for creating art can often provide an amazing outlet. Discovering a creative side may be something that your loved one has never experienced before, or maybe you didn’t even know about. Artis Senior Living shares some ways you can help your loved one with dementia get creative.
Creativity Can Emerge
Experts believe that the loss of communication skills in dementia patients allows the visual side of the brain to flourish. For example, it may come out in painting, or sculpture, or even activities like gardening. Dr. Bruce Miller at the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, believes this is because the verbal side of the brain is no longer inhibiting the visual side. All of this depends on where the dementia is affecting the brain, but don’t discount the possibility that your loved one is creative – even if they’ve never been in the past.
Coloring Can Be a Good First Step
Coloring is not just for kids anymore. It’s all the rage for adults and it could be a good way to find out if your senior loved one with dementia is interested in art. Choose from coloring pages and coloring books in all types of themes. Download them and print them off or order a themed coloring book that your senior might like in mandalas, flowers, stained glass, or animals. Depending on their dexterity, you can accompany the pages with colored pencils or larger crayons that might be easier to hold.
Try Simple Painting
Other seniors might prefer a blank sheet of paper that allows them to free-form paint something they see in their home or in the yard. Purchase a used or new easel, or set them up at a sturdy table with a simple and cost-effective set of watercolors and brushes. Watch this inspiring story of how Mike learned to paint after he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.
Working with plants and flowers can be a sensory explosion for seniors with dementia – the aroma of rosemary, the feel of a rose petal, the color patterns of the coleus plant. Providing your loved one with a variety of plants and flowers can not only help stimulate their senses, but it can also encourage their creativity and increase their sense of self-worth. Pick up a variety of plants from your local nursery or order online and arrange them in a plant stand or on a windowsill. Or teach them how to plant the seeds and nurture the plants themselves. If you need an indoor light, try this GrowLED indoor garden. And don’t forget to stay away from plants with toxic leaves. Observe which plants they gravitate to and how they respond to this experience overall. Add more of the plants they love and enhance their chances to explore and experience nature, all while giving them something to feel joyful and confident about.
For more tips on interacting with your senior loved one, visit the Artis Senior Living blog.
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