The difficulty for families suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is often coping with the belief that a loved one has changed, along with their ability to communicate effectively.
While it may seem as if your loved one is lost, research suggests there are creative techniques to help strengthen clarity and communication using creativity. Some activities include drawing, painting, sculpting, and playing music. These art therapy exercises are known to produce a calming effect on affected seniors, allowing therapeutic communication through self-expression.
Owner of 5 Star Home Care, Kenny Higdon says, “Reaching someone requires understanding and good listening skills. A person may easily lose his or her train of thought, use familiar words repeatedly or have difficulty organizing words logically. Art and music can reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness.”
While this therapeutic treatment is recommended by a trained professional, friends and family are encouraged to engage loved ones using creativity as a way of direct communication.
“The loss of language doesn’t mean the loss of the desire to express oneself. In fact, the part of the brain responsible for creativity is one of the last to be affected by the disease. The paintings, sketches and drawings created by these artists are often highly expressive, beautiful and hopeful. In viewing the art, the families, caregivers and the public are often touched by the tangible evidence of what remains of the individual,” The Alzheimer’s Association’s Memories in the Making® (MIM) states.
Studies suggest that music, among other art forms can be incredibly powerful. It was reported that music-listeners had significantly reduced levels of anxiety, agitation, and behavioral issues associated with the disease. Despite progression, even a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient may be able to sing along to the old tunes from years past. Music provides a way for everyone to connect, even for challenged individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s.
Higdon recommends playing songs that are upbeat and familiar. Perhaps a favorite album during the younger years of loved one’s life. “A tranquil piece of music can help create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from someone’s childhood may boost spirit and evoke happy memories. Avoid sensory overload from competing noises: Turn off the television, make sure the volume of the music isn’t too loud, and shut doors and windows. Also, choose a source of music that isn’t interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion.”
Individuals with dementia at any stage can benefit from participating in creative expression to ensure mental clarity and effective communication. For families, it is recommended to focus on the feeling behind what is said, as emotions are more important than words.
“My heart goes out to anyone with Alzheimer’s and their family,” Higdon said. For more information on memory care assistance for your loved ones, contact 5 Star Home Care today!