Dementia Patients Reclaim Their Identity Through Art Therapy
The beauty of art therapy is that it is a form of treatment that is catered to the patient. At htE we use art therapy principles with creative expression to help with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Art Therapist and Director of Education at the Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida, Angel Duncan engages in art therapy with patients with Dementia. She explains that this is something that is lacking in the forms of treatment that patients with Dementia have access to in an interview with WGCU station in Southwest Florida.
The patients that Duncan begins working with are in their first stages of Dementia who haven't began losing their memories yet. A common fear that they have is finding out who they will be without their memories. Working through that fear is the work that Duncan is responsible for through art therapy. She explains the countless times that patients have recalled thing that others had thought they had forgotten. Duncan encourages patient's loved ones to be a part of some of her sessions. It gives them the opportunity to bond as family members briefly instead of the new roles of patient and caretaker that comes with caring for family members with Dementia.
Duncan recalled a specific patient, Melinda, whom she had been working with for five years. One session, she had painted and apple tree. When Duncan began asking her why she had drawn an apple tree, Melinda explained that her mother had an apple orchard and she began recalling the many apple pies and ciders that her mother used to make. From that memory she jumped to how she used to be a principle and then her marriage with elaborate details. All of which were memories that Melinda's nurse aid didn't know she still had. Who knew that art therapy could be so beneficial for patients with Dementia?! This goes to show the versatility of art therapy and the success that can follow whether it be here at htE or with patients of Angel Duncan.
Photo above: Angel Duncan working with a patient