Boomer Wellness - Successful Aging Through Education
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Painting with Dementia Patients

I recently had the most wonderful experience that is worth sharing.  My eighty-three year old father has dementia and lives in an assisted living community.  Visits can be difficult because of his inability to effectively communicate on a consistent basis.  Last week, I decided to bring a little wooden sled, paint, and a paintbrush with me to the visit.  After selecting a color and given a little direction, he began to paint the sled as I held it for him.  Dad appeared to be quite relaxed as he worked carefully to coat the sled with bright green paint. He let me know when he had tired of the task at hand.  The sled isn't quite finished yet, but there is no rush!  I invite you to watch the short video of our time together.
Although I am a trained gerontologist, there is nothing that can compare with the hands on experience of that day!  Here are a few helpful hints if you find yourself in a similar situation.
  • Ask the individual if he/she would like to actively participate or simply watch.
  • Set up your supplies in a familiar setting.
  • Ask the individual to choose what color he/she would like.
  • Let the individual paint the project to his/her liking, not yours.  Don't be concerned if there are uncovered spots!
  • If the steps to painting have been forgotten, describe the process as you demonstrate them.
  • Watch for signs of fatigue and/or frustration.
  • Honor the individual's wish to stop when it is verbalized.
  • Do not worry if the project is not completed in one session.
Activities such as these can be fun and transform an ordinary visit into an extraordinary one.  Painting is not for everyone, and fine motor skills can be compromised in the later stages of dementia.  Following the above guidelines will go a long way in providing a beautiful experience for you and your loved one. 

    1 Comment to Painting with Dementia Patients:

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    Marita on Friday, January 24, 2014 2:56 PM
    That's a powerful example! I assume he is doing better after his hospital stay?
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