OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. (CBS) — Art is bringing new life and joy to people suffering from memory loss.
The seniors get a brush and stroke – and some leaves to print – and the world is brought to brilliant life. CBS 2 Photojournalist Reed Nolan took us to a painting program at Terra Vista Memory Care Living in Oakbrook Terrace.
Art therapy is one of several life enrichment programs the assisted living facility offers to residents.
“It’s really about just creating meaningful moments,” said Terra Vista executive director Natalie McFarland. “We have always wanted to do this creative arts program.”
CBS 2 was there as an art therapist directed a woman named Jo, who was printing leaves and sticking them onto a canvas for a captivating nature scene.
“Ma has a lot of personality – always has,” said the son of a resident. “Having an opportunity to do the different artwork has been good for us as family when we’ve come to see her.”
“It’s not just an activity to fill time. This has a purpose. This is a therapy. This gets them engaged in thinking and creating, and that’s what a dementia patient needs,” said Becky Liscum, the daughter of a resident.
McFarland explains that art therapy also helps the brain.
“Their neurons are firing. They’re creating new neural pathways. And that is very helpful for the brain,” she said. “They’re not always able to articulate what they’re feeling. To be able to do it through art is a beautiful way for them to still interpret and show what they’re feeling.”
And the creative process is a joyous one for both the patients and their families.
“It’s just so wonderful to have that and to see that come to life. The mind is an amazing thing. Some of the artwork over there is just absolutely stunning. There are no two prints the same. No two leaves are the same. No two paintings are the same,” Liscum said. “I have a painting that my mom did. I keep that in my house, and every day that I look at it, it just reminds me of her and I smile.”