September is officially world Alzheimer’s month, with the 21st being a day dedicated to raising awareness for the illness. Here, we take a moment to explore the role that art, the thing we love most at Art2Arts, plays in treating people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The therapeutic qualities of producing art have long been recognised, not least for the stereotypical troubled, passionate artist, but also for anyone who wishes to pick up a paintbrush and get to work on a canvas. In fact, we discussed the topic of art being useful beyond decorative purposes in a previous blog post last May. A study, published in an issue of Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, showed that the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ was dramatically reduced when creating art. Even if the participant had little to no prior experience or ‘skill’ in this field, after just 45 minutes they were shown to have much lower levels of cortisol.
While this proves the effectiveness of exploring creativity to lower our stress levels, Alzheimer’s is a complex condition that requires therapy, beyond the stress reducing kind, in order to ease the symptoms. A study, commissioned by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, shed some light as to how exactly art can be beneficial for those that suffer the condition.
In the programme, the Australian art gallery invited people living with dementia and their carers to view and discuss artworks in its collection. Dementia or Alzheimer’s can have a huge impact memory, yet emotions are not affected. By simply looking at and appreciating art, the study found that tremendous joy was experienced in the present moment. Through encouraging this happiness to be enjoyed ‘in the moment’, those suffering are not frustrated or stressed from trying to recall non-existent memories. And when family members chatted about the artwork they had just seen together, it was also shown to be a great way to encourage social interaction, giving families a tool to help them bond once more.
If you know someone who is suffering with Alzheimer’s, we hope that this study can inspire you to use art in order to encourage interaction, spread joy and enhance the life of your loved one. Why not starts the process by heading online at Art2Arts and browsing our huge collection of varied paintings for sale, to learn more about their preferences and thoughts on the pieces? And if they find a painting that they are truly struck with, they could soon be starting their own collection of unique, inspiring, original art!