Every other Monday, long term care residents gather around a long table draped in bright-coloured tablecloths, canvases, brushes and paints, ready to take on a new Artfull Aging project.
While some residents attend the program to improve their artistic skills and follow along with the project, others enjoy exploring the materials independently or utilize the creative time to inspire thought-provoking discussion.
Recently, during an Artfull Aging program, an avid resident artist named Abe became visibly upset after finishing his project. When asked why he was upset Abe replied, ‘I’m no longer able to sign my name.’ He had just completed a beautiful painting of row houses, reminiscent of where he grew up in Holland. The houses were thoughtfully crafted, with whimsical peaks that overlooked a bed of tulips, the synonymous Dutch flower.
As Abe explained his frustrations, three residents who were creating alongside him, pulled themselves away from their canvases and offered words of encouragement to their fellow artist. Each of the three women is suffering from cognitive decline and has difficulty following conversations and word-finding. At that moment, they had no problem finding the right words of encouragement, ‘your painting is absolutely beautiful!’, ‘I think it is the best painting at the table,’ one woman even patted Abe on the back with a smile and a motivational thumbs up.
Emotional intuition is deeply rooted in us.
In the same moment that Abe was discouraged by his shaky hands and weakening fine-motor skills, he was simultaneously supported by his peers and fellow artists with words of encouragement. Although Abe chose not to sign his painting that day, he left the program with a renewed sense of self and feelings of accomplishment.
This is the incredible power of shared art experiences.
To learn more about Artfull Aging programs visit our website www.artfullaging.com