The Allure of Art Therapy
Art therapy, a form of psychotherapy, is first and foremost a therapy. It utilizes the creative process to help people express their thoughts and emotions and share memories through projects such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. It is an alternate means of communication that is of great benefit to Parc Provence’s residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
The practice of art therapy is the creation of a safe and nurturing space. The emphasis is on the process, rather than the end result. It draws on each resident’s memories. It places value on personal stories, personal experiences, and personal memories making them meaningful to others.
Art therapy stimulates the brain in important ways, a distinction that makes a difference in caring for people with memory diseases. An art-therapy experience can simultaneously offer visual, auditory, and sensory stimulation, making it a holistic treatment approach that engages all five senses to fully activate the brain.
“Creating art can help residents feel a sense of dignity and independence, as well as help improve socialization, especially in groups, and improve their overall moods,” Art Therapist Ashley Ramm said. “Art therapy can sometimes help negate behaviors, too, such as ‘sundowning,’ which is when residents start to feel irritable or more confused later in the day.”
Each year, Parc Provence works with the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre staff to come up with a group art activity for the residents’ “Seniors Day Out” visit.
“Our residents have a lot of fun getting to see the latest art exhibitions and reflecting how the artwork reminds them of past experiences or anything from their life,” Ramm said. “We also let our residents know about the exhibitions so they can participate. Earlier this spring we had a few residents who submitted some pieces, and they were thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to have their artwork on display. It seemed to give them a sense of purpose.”
“Even though they have dementia or Alzheimer’s, that doesn’t mean life is over,” Ramm added. “They can still have the opportunities to do these amazing things they used to do in their younger years. We’re just so excited and honored to have the opportunity to enter their artwork it’s something we’re going to continue to offer them.”
See for yourself
Join us at our Resident Art Show and Open House Sunday, Sept. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. to celebrate the positive impact art therapy has on our residents. We see evidence every day that it stimulates the mind and empowers our residents to express their ideas and emotions. Desserts and refreshments will be served. Call 314-384-5233 to learn more.