Art and dementia care II
June 10, 2007
In dementia care, I don’t accept the convential assumptions about the limitations of someone with the condition. As an artist I look first at the person not the disease, and secondly I focus on potentials and build on those.
Another helpful skill that transfers easily from art to care (and isn’t art a form of caring in itself?) is accepting something at face value and appreciating its intrinsic worth.
A member of staff gives a person with dementia a pencil and paper in the hope that he will write or draw. When the person starts to wind his tie around it, she gently stops him and takes the pencil away, perhaps trying another tool.
An artist or other person trained in creative thinking watches what the man does with the pencil and the tie. She notes the interest in the object and that there was some pleasure in the action of wrapping.
If it were me, I would provide dowels of different thicknesses and some string, wool and other cord. I would sit and accompany the person in wrapping cord around sticks and I think they would gain satisfaction and interest in the resulting object.
full attention for the subject/person; open attitude free of judgement; playful experimental stance; willingness to risk and learn from the situation; inventiveness; and appreciation for what is, for the moment, and for the magic of the encounter.