Friday, March 11, 2011

Memories in the Making

Memories in the Making is an art program sponsored by the Alzheimeer's Association that exists to provide a creative and expressive outlet to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and/or related dementias. While the disease affects individuals’ abilities to use language effectively, the need to communicate can continue through art and the MIM watercolor painting groups. The groups are held at various assisted living and care communities and are facilitated by a staff member and an art volunteer.
One of our wonderful volunteers, Mary, is showing a resident how to use the watercolor on wet paper. It is very important in the Memories in the Making program that the art work is created entirely by the resident as an outlet for their individual creativity. Facilitators are there to provide support, encouragement and guidance as needed.

Some artists look at inspiration photos or still lifes and others are happy to just put paint on the paper. As the dementia increases the paintings often become more abstract in nature but always seem to be colorful and cheerful. It is especially fun to see what the artist will title their paintings - one artist wanted to title her work 'Stormy Skies' because she said it sounded 'sexy' - a common title is 'It Looks Like a Mess'. Dementia may affect memory but their sense of humor stays intact.

This is a wonderful program that brings a lot of joy to the residents and is VERY meaningful to the families. Paintings often show that the memories of their loved ones are not all lost but just can’t be communicated verbally.

As the Memories in the Making program coordinator for Colorado Springs, CO  I am always looking for volunteers to use their creative talents to facilitate a small art class. All that is needed is an interest in art, compassion for the elderly and the patience to build trusting relationships. The time involved is only 2 hours per week at a care community, a one day training session and a six month commitment to the program.
The next MIM Basic Training will be Thurs Mar 31, 2011 - please contact me if interested. If you don't live in Colorado contact your local Alzheimer's office to see if there is a program near you - thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Martha,
    What you are doing with these wonderful people is exceptional! I do a similar program with people with dementia and Alzheimer's in NE Oklahoma. It is very rewarding for them to be able to create. Keep up the good work!