According to the Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Association, art therapy can open doors to self-expression and communication that also create a true sense of purpose and accomplishment in loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Art therapists tell us that creative self-expression through art offers several important benefits for individuals with memory loss, including:
- Increasing ability for self-expression and communication
- Helping reduce stress, fear, and anxiety
- Improving mood and decreases agitation and outbursts
- Enabling social engagement and reduces isolation
- Improving ability to focus
- Enhancing memory and the ability to reminisce
- Providing an important sense of accomplishment and purpose
- Awakening a sense of interest and curiosity
- Rekindling the ability to form relationships, particularly with the person providing the art therapy
How to Provide Art Therapy at Home
If you would like to try art activities with your loved one at home, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these useful suggestions in the article, “Music, Art and Alzheimer’s”:
- Keep the project on an adult level. Avoid anything that might be demeaning or seem child-like.
- Build conversation into the project. Provide encouragement; discuss what the person is creating or reminiscing about.
- Help the person begin the activity. If the person is painting, you may need to start the brush movement.
- Use safe materials. Avoid toxic substances and sharp tools.
- Allow plenty of time, keeping in mind that the person doesn’t have to finish the project in one sitting.