Managing troubling behaviors when a senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease isn’t easy. Part of the struggle for family caregivers is the roller coaster of emotions the disease creates. Some days are good, and family members feel successful. But there are other days when a loved one’s Alzheimer’s-related aggression, agitation, and angry outbursts feel overwhelming.
While researchers aren’t completely sure what causes these highs and lows, many hypothesize that it’s related to difficulty communicating. Alzheimer’s often robs adults of their verbal skills as the disease progresses.
Finding creative ways to allow adults with Alzheimer’s to express themselves might be the key. And Art Therapy is one such way.
Art Therapy and Adults with Alzheimer’s
Instead of struggling through a traditional conversation that can be stressful for an adult with Alzheimer’s, art allows family caregivers and the senior to use nonverbal communication. Even an adult with advanced Alzheimer’s can use creativity to express themselves. Whether they are cheerful, dispirited, or angry, art provides the older adult with a way to share their emotions in more productive ways.
Other benefits of art therapy for people with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia include:
● Concentration skills: Art therapy helps older adults quiet their mind and focus. The physical damage that Alzheimer’s causes to the body makes this difficult to do. But creative arts stimulate different areas of the brain, utilizing cognitive abilities that are still functioning well.
● Intergenerational activity: Art projects also enable several generations to bond and spend time together. If a grandparent has Alzheimer’s, creating hands-on projects with a grandchild can lift their spirits. It also allows the senior to stay actively engaged in loved ones’ lives.
Incorporating Art Therapy into a Senior’s Day
Many senior communities, including Sunrise Senior Living, include the creative arts in everyday life. Activities are designed to help older adults, including those with memory loss, enjoy meaningful, productive days.
There are many ways you can incorporate these types of activities at home when you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Here are a few easy and inexpensive ideas to try:
● Craft Store Supplies: Your local craft store can be a great source of inspiration. You can pick up all-inclusive kits to create a variety of projects, ranging from stepping stones to painted pottery. Or you can buy a canvas, paint, and paint brushes and let your loved one create their own art.
● Art for Alzheimer’s: As our country’s awareness about Alzheimer’s grows, so too do the number of opportunities for life enrichment. Some Alzheimer’s Association day centers and art museums offer art classes, many of which are for the caregiver and senior to enjoy together.
● Photo Albums/Scrapbook: While many people with Alzheimer’s can’t remember recent events, they may still enjoy vivid memories of the past. One way to honor those memories might be to create a photo album or scrapbook together. You can print or copy favorite family photos and use them to create a memory book. Brightly colored tape and themed stickers from the craft store can further enhance each page.
Dementia Care at Sunrise Senior Living
Sunrise Senior Living’s Memory Care Services are designed to help older adults with dementia enjoy meaningful days despite their disease. From art therapy to secure neighborhoods, we are proud of the work we do on behalf of people with memory loss.
We’d love an opportunity to show you around and help you learn more. Use our Contact Form to request a call from one of the Sunrise Memory Care experts today!