Chocolate Rain, activity ideas for dementia care

July 24, 2010

Here is a sneak peek at the front cover for my book Chocolate Rain, which will be published by Hawker Publishers this fall.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that it is an idea book for caregivers and families for activity design for dementia care. It contains chapters on how to develop activities suited to your particular situation as well as a fully illustrated 100 activities handbook.

The Pitch
I also give quite a bit of attention to developing your own creative capacities so that you can keep coming up with your own ideas on the spot. Most caregivers’ training develops the intellect which is obviously needed,  but dealing with dementia also asks for the ability to imagine, improvise, intuit, and play. These are all skills developed by anyone regularly engaged in creative processes, such as visual artists, inventors, writers, and innovators in any field.  I haven’t seen many books on creativity addressed specifically to caregivers, so this is a fairly new area.

I know from meeting many nurses and doctors through my experience as an artist in health facilities, that they are incredibly creative people who generally haven’t found an outlet for their creativity in their work. Or they feel attracted to the creative fields but don’t know how to start. Usually, doing the simplest craft project together, taking less than 5 miinutes, can open up a whole area of discovery for these individuals. My book contains at least 150 of these projects which are simultaneously activities for people with dementia, and artistically satisfying creative projects for caregivers, family or anyone interested.

The Process
I will remember this summer primarily as being spent in front of the computer or in my attic studio with the fan on, with quick forays out into the garden (but with my thoughts still in front of the computer).  It is a joy to be given the task of illustrating and designing the book myself.  But in the time given (it all goes to the printer at the end of September), it would be less nerve wracking to be working with a team.

As it is, I am the team, and that entails generating all the artwork and scanning it, reworking in Photoshop; checking the text and editing where necessary; doing the interior book design and cover; the typography throughout, preparing it all so it is printer-ready, checking what needs copyright permission and getting it, etc etc.

Coincidentally, I also have a life, so it is quite a juggling act. This week, I’ve written all the task areas out and for the first time prioritized, because I was getting lost in details.

Right now I am working on getting to a definitive page count as well as a consistent design for the chapter and section headings, which often involve illustrations.

Luckily for me, Rende is going to deal with a lot of the technical details which go beyond my Photoshop knowledge. He’s a real wizard with that.

6 Responses to “Chocolate Rain, activity ideas for dementia care”

  1. Catherine Says:

    It looks great!

  2. Donna Says:

    This site is great, and your book sounds interesting. Just saw a new documentary film on DVD called “I Remember Better When I Paint” which read about on Dementia Weekly. The film is remarkable, mind changing with excellent examples.
    Here is the link to article in case of interest: http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/Art_and_Music/i-remember-better-when-i-paint-a654.html

    • szoutewelle Says:

      hi Donna, that was an inspiring link, thank you. I am so glad this kind of art making is being accepted now as part of the approach to Alzheimer patients.

      My book contains art activities, but it is not primarily about making art with people with dementia. The population I worked with was non conversant with the arts, so I had to use my creativity in other ways to engage them. This did eventually involve visual arts because that is my language, but the art activity was only a catalyst for contact and giving quality attention.

  3. Dale Simmons Says:

    Oh Sarah,

    The cover looks great! My mother was just diagnosed with some frontal lobe dementia, so I now find myself in the position to benefit, first-hand, from your book. I am so glad that you will be providing a much needed approach to dementia care. Can’t wait for it to be published. Thank you!


  4. szoutewelle Says:

    I am just so sorry to hear of your mom’s diagnosis. If it were up to me, no one would need this book, ever. And if there were no people with dementia, I wouldn’t have had to write it.
    Hopefully you will find areas of solace, and I hope the book can be part of that.
    Please feel free to contact me with specific questions.

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