'Joy, satisfaction and sense of worth': Art therapy used to combat Alzheimer's
For many people, painting is a hobby. For people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, it can be therapy.
Stephen Myers has Alzheimer’s, a neurological disease that makes remembering and communicating difficult.
“When you have a conversation, sometimes your brain just stops,” says the Montreal-area resident. “You don't know what to say next, you don't know what you just said, so you're sort of feeling there cold.”
Myers’ disease makes some aspects of life more difficult, but it isn’t stopping him from learning new things. He has begun working on art and is getting a thrill out of picking up new skills.
“When you look at it, you sort of ask, did I really do that?” he says of his finished work.
Myers says that his art is bringing him “joy, satisfaction and sense of worth.”
Pascale Godbout, an art therapist with the Alzheimer’s Society of Montreal, says that painting may be doing even more than that.
Art classes allow people to be socially engaged and to better express their emotions. Creative work may also stimulate their brains.
“The more the person is stimulated, the more you can slow maybe the progress of the disease,” Godbout said. “The art really, really keeps the brain working.”
John Ryan, a renowned artist, has been working with people from the Alzheimer Societies of Quebec to teach painting. They are working on a mural that will be unveiled in January.
Myers says the sessions “have been a dream.”
“We have conversations and it’s very relaxing for me,” he says.
Ryan says that “the disease is pretty well gone from the minute we sit down.”
“That’s the goal,” he adds. “We put it aside.”
With a report from CTV National News’ Vanessa Lee