ART- A WAY TO UNDERSTAND DEMENTIA AND SUCH INCURABLE ILLNESSES

Poster art 01

The worst curse that one can be bestowed with is the situation where he does not remember a single thing. All of life’s precious moments and occasions vanished! Like it never even existed.

“The hardest thing is watching somebody you love to forget that they love you”   – A Wishful soul ……. Such agonizing words.

But alas it is a heartbreaking reality and experience for millions around the world today.

Even though science has taken huge strides in the field of well being and medicine the sure short cure of dementia is still beyond our grasp.

It is because of the varied cases that the complete diagnosis of the illness is still unexplored and a lot of research is currently in process.

Our experiences are what makes us truly unique so imagine not being able to remember a single thing about your life.

All those nostalgic moments and memorable events lost in perpetual oblivion most certainly never to come back.

All of this eventually resulting in the slow march towards the path of insanity and melancholy.

For people who have heard of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer only through word of mouth, it is much more horrible than it seems.

There are three aspects of these illnesses: completely forgetting something, partly remembering something and lastly remembering something in a twisted manner.

Frank Kermode termed it as ‘decreation’ a place where words and meanings disintegrated resulting in the ultimate apocalypse of the self.

Dementia

They may inter-relate two completely different events in two different phases of life and jumble them up into a single memory.

They may be able to recollect an incident partially and twist the remaining part in an attempt to get away with the pain of recollecting some old memories.

Everyone fears death but what kind of life do we truly have if we lose the very essence of yourself. We become a victim of our own mind rendering us in a state of ruin.

One of the gifts of art is to enable us to enter into other people’s lives and selves. A common method adopted these days to try and understand dementia is consent-based portrait sketching.

family charcoal drawing

It is a unique method in which an artist is asked to sketch and paint portraits based on the directions given by the patients with their prior consent.

The people are asked to visualize a picture and describe it to the artist. Gradually they are asked to remember their own face and have it drawn.

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As it keeps going on, the people are engaged in having conversations and given chances of expressing them in an informal manner.

The method has been adopted by an artist in Dalhousie University’s faculty of medicine named Mark Gilbert partnering with Dr. Kenneth Rockwood.

They have been spearheading the effect of portrait sketches on dementia patients to learn more about the promising aspects and hopes for finding solutions.

A routine questioning session is often a stringent process and most of the times it fails to evoke any kind of positive response from the people affected by Alzheimer.

The study conducted suggested that patients were capable of engaging in aspects which they found difficult in previous counseling sessions.

They were actively participating and more open.

The interactions also lead to a foundation of mutual trust between the patient and the doctor which is beneficial in the long run.

Paintings are a form of transcending those deeply hidden feelings to a portrait in a compelling manner.

The research is based on the personal experience of Mr. Gilbert who lost his mother to the same condition.

Mr. Gilbert realized that the best way to spark a conversation would be to engage them in interactive painting sessions.

Art also works as an emotional booster and can be an important aspect when it comes to the emotional quotient of that individual as it gives you a medium to unleash and depict your emotions in a carefree manner.

In a world that is biased and unforgiving, art can be the sanctuary that you so ardently desire as well as require.

It can be that momentary bliss that you have wished for your entire life.

“and then I have nature and art and poetry and if that is not enough what is enough”    -Vincent Van Gogh

  • Art Therapy:

oil painting from photo

The use of art in dementia care is a valuable tool in enriching the lives of people with dementia.

For any person who has even the most basic of knowledge about dementia understands the fact that it severely affects the person’s cognitive and logical abilities.

Hence talking to them directly about their situation will do more harm than it will good.

As a reason, many practitioners across the world have resorted to art as a means to understand Alzheimer better.

Many specialized art therapies combine art, dance, and music as a means to stimulate the brain.

The mneme therapy is an example of the above statement

It is a unique type of whole brain therapy.

It uses a combination of directed painting, arm movements, story-telling and praise to not only provide a pleasant example but also improve verbal skills, mobility, and cognitive skills.

Being engrossed in visual and performing arts provides avenues for people with dementia to express themselves in a creative manner.

For example through the process of creating an image or participating in a song a person with dementia may access long or short-term memories.

5 tips to empower people with dementia:

  • Transform activities to suit the patient’s interests and abilities.
  • Allow plenty of time for the creative process rather than focusing on the end product.
  • Showcase their works of art prominently so as to promote a sense of achievement resulting in better self-esteem.
  • Use personal photos so as to inspire their works.
  • Summon an environment which does not put excessive amounts of load on their senses.

Remember that the person with dementia is not giving you a hard time, the person with dementia is having a hard time.

Art can be a powerful tool in the fight against dementia which has seen an unprecedented rise in the last few years.

More and more people forget about themselves and the ones they love and art plays a pivotal role in the battle against this devastating disease.

The practice of paintings to interact with people would set a future where patients would be more ready to talk about themselves and become more capable of communicating emotions.

Paintings can be a wonderful way to interact with people and express individual feelings and emotions in a beautiful manner.

In the words of Pablo Picasso, one of the most famous painters of the century “Paintings are just another way of keeping a diary”.

The painting has a numerous number of benefits and has also been used in many health treatments.

The chandler gallery at Maud Morgan arts states that

“Art making has the ability to move people along their journey of grief and loss into a more balanced place of healing and hope. In the face of tragedy, the creative process can help re-calibrate a mourner’s life”

It is one of the highest elements of human happiness.

If you feel that you have something important to share about this topic or in general please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.

All of us at PortraitFlip hope that this article has been of much use to you so as to educate you about the fallacies of dementia and the role that art plays against this ravaging disease.

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