The Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making® program offers creative art expression for individuals with early to the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Even after people with dementia have lost the ability to use words, they are able to paint their thoughts, emotions and memories in a manner that is expressive and beautiful. Art becomes their voice.
October Gallery Night featured the work of three artists from the Memories in the Making® program. Memories in the Making is the art program of the Alzheimer’s Association. When words fail, the paintings of the artists in the program, all with a diagnosis of dementia, become a tool for expression and communication.
Artist Ken Reilly was diagnosed at age 59 with Alzheimer’s disease. Ken’s abstract paintings and limited commentaries focus on his family and deeply held sentiments.
Artist Elaine Martin-Whiting still writes some of the stories that accompany her paintings, although her Parkinson’s disease often inhibits her writing ability.
Elaine’s surviving polio as a child inspired her to become a nurse so she could help others. She is a lay Franciscan, and her recent artwork is based on her deep religious convictions.
“Flight of the Pheasant”, Lavern Jankovich
87 year-old artist Lavern Jankovich, a child of the Depression, worked outside the home at the age of fourteen. She was the only one of eight children to complete high school. Artistic in nature, she set her talents aside to work, raise a family and volunteer in the community. Lavern’s artwork is representative and detailed.
View the MIM video with Angel Duncan.
The goal of the program is to offer an emotionally safe environment with positive messages. It is designed to be fun but also serves as a communication tool for families and professional caregivers to learn more about the person with dementia.
Through this experience, people with Alzheimer's are often able to reach outside of their dementia and paint a picture that reconnects them with a past memory. These documented memories become powerful tools that reassure family and caregivers that the essence of the individual is still there. The experience also provides professional caregivers and families with an avenue to learn more about the person with dementia.
Memories in the Making programs meet weekly in small groups under the guidance of a care professional and art facilitator who have been specially trained to work with individual with memory loss and dementia. For most of the individuals who enroll and participate in the group, this is their first time painting.
For more information please contact Nancy Armitage, Memories in the Making coordinator, at email@example.com.
Benefits to those with Alzheimer’s disease
Encourages decision-making and independence
Counteracts social isolation, encourages socialization
Improves communication social skills, motor coordination and manual dexterity
Improves mental alertness through problem solving, vision memory, concentration and imagination
Provides an acceptable and safe alternative for venting emotions
Facilities currently offering Memories in the Making® at their sites:
Fond du Lac:
All About Life
Kettle Moraine Gardens
Aurora Adult Day Center
Jewish Home and Care Center
Milwaukee Catholic Home
Milwaukee Center for Independence
St. Anne's Salvatorian
St. John's on the Lake
The Villa at River Parkway
United Community Center
VA - Milwaukee
Shorehaven Adult Day Center
Ridgewood Care Center
Azura Memory Care
Heritage Homes Assisted Living
Curative Adult Day Care