"I Remember Better When I Paint": A DVD about the Arts and Alzheimer’s

March 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm 1 comment

I have a passion for creative expression and the arts, so when a reader (Hi Donald!) pointed me towards this trailer, I clapped my little hands with glee.  It’s narrated by the marvelous Olivia de Havilland, whose voice lends an extra layer of depth and beauty to the project.

The idea behind the film?  Creative workshops, museum trips, and classes that allow hands on artistic expression are being effectively used as therapies for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.    The artistic process taps into parts of the brain largely untouched by  Alzheimer’s,  not only allowing the patients a means of expression, but also forming a bridge of communication with loved ones and caregivers.

As a writer, the idea of losing my words is a frightening one.  But as a visual artist, I also know how powerful images can be when it comes to expressing a thought, a feeling, a moment.  It’s a different process of communication, but it’s still clearly communication — and having that outlet for patients is, I imagine, a welcome relief from the frustration of Alzheimer’s, a frustration that so often finds expression in anger.

As an artist I also know how being able to produce a work of art gives purpose to what I’m feeling. Even the darkest of moments can be captured and given value – and it’s not just value to myself, but to others.  And as recent research has shown, having a sense of purpose is another key in promoting brain health.

So pick up a paint brush, a stick of charcoal, a lump of clay.   Play with found objects, shapes and colors, notes and rhythms.  It can help you now, by exercising your brain and providing you with the language of art.  It can help you later, by slowing and reducing the risks of cognitive decline.  And in the worst case scenario, it will provide you with purpose and a means of communication.

You can pick up a copy of the complete film through Amazon, the ArtistsForAlzheimer’s website, or directly from the filmmakers at French Connection.   Along with the 54 minute film, you’ll find bonus features about organizing outings and creative workshops for patients, how the methods can be used to recreate social bonds, and a variety of other helpful related topics.

If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think in the comments.
And  I owe a big hat tip to Donald for pointing me to this clip
at the
Alzheimer’s Reading Room.– Thank you!

Entry filed under: Be Mentally Active, Purpose. Connection & Spirit, Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Laurel Zuckerman  |  March 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Thank you for this fine article.
    I was quite moved by the film. It shows how human contact and an appeal to an individual’s artistic senses can help restore humanity, even in a person shattered by a terrible disease like Alzheimer’s.

    I had the privilege of interviewing Berna Hueber, who was inspired to make this film because of the role art therapy played in helping her mother.

    She said: “In the moments when she painted, my mother truly seemed to come alive. That is why we wanted to share these experiences—in the hope that they will help show how our society can address the challenge of Alzheimer’s…also through the healing, communicative power of the creative arts.”

    For those interested, here is the complete interview:


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A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
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