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Creativity is key for Alzheimer’s patients

Angelica Valencia, a member of Hebrew Health Care’s “Fresh Canvas” program, tours the New Britain Museum of Art exhibit.

Angelica Valencia, a member of Hebrew Health Care’s “Fresh Canvas” program, tours the New Britain Museum of Art exhibit.

Members of Hebrew Health Care’s (HHC) Adult Day Services braved the bitter cold one afternoon in early January to explore warmer climes at the New Britain Museum of American Art. The visitors, all budding artists from HHC’s Fresh Canvas: Alzheimer’s Arts program, viewed the museum’s Hawaiian art and artifacts exhibit with Mary Alice Landry, the program’s art therapy consultant, and other HHC Adult Day Center staff. The museum generously provided a free tour, and three docents took turns explaining the history, background, and elements of artwork from the 17th century to the 20th century. Afterwards, Landry led a lively discussion that allowed participants to creatively express themselves.

Launched in 2005, the goal of Fresh Canvas is to allow participants to use the creative process involved in artistic expression to resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, to reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness. “It amazes me,” said Charmaine Emond, recreation therapist at the Adult Day Center, “that despite their significant memory deficits, the artwork they do often becomes the muse for our creative writing groups several days later.”

“When I’m with that group, I don’t think of my losses or symptoms; I’m just me,” said a group member who wished to remain anonymous. His wife agreed. “I don’t know how they get him involved,” she said, “but when he’s there, he’s amazing – at home, he often just sleeps.”

For more information on the Adult Day Center at Hebrew Health Care, call Maureen at (860) 523-3857 or visit  www.hebrewhealthcare.org.

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