Periodically I will add posts here if the sources provide additioanl informaiton on how to think about and deal with Dementia/ Alzheimer's Disease.
SCROLL DOWN FOR TEXT and BIBLIOGRAPHY from DAI WEBINAR 2/22-23/2017. You can also find this information on my website: www.horvich.com
Even though this blog is now dormant (see info below) there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. My guess is that you could spend a lot of time here and maybe learn or experience a thing or two about living with and loving someone with Dementia/Alzheimer's or maybe come away with the feeling that "you are not alone" in YOUR work with the same!
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THIS WAS THE FINAL POST TO THIS SITE BEFORE IT WENT DORMANT.
Happy New Year 2016. With a new year comes new beginnings and sometimes endings. If I am personally progressing and if I am doing a good job in my grieving Gregory's death; if I have been able to learn my lessons in living and loving someone diagnosed with Dementia/ Alzheimer's; if I am to get on with my life ... I need to bring this Alzheimer's blog to an end since my writing has been dealing less with Dementia/ Alzheimer's and more with life after Dementia/ Alzheimer's.
Of course, I will always continue to work for and support fair treatment on behalf of people with Dementia/ Alzheimer's and may post here from time to time. Also, there are many wonderful posts here through which you may browse.
With this change, I will continue and reinvigorate my "michael a. horvich writes" blog which deals with grieving Gregory's death, life lessons, personal experiences, observations, memoirs, dreams, and humor in essay and poetry, as well as an attempt now and then at sharing a piece of fiction.
Please follow me there by clicking http://mhorvich.blogspot.com or click the link located on the right side of this page.
Finally, COMMENTS are always important to me and you can still comment on the posts on this blog! CLICK "Comments" and sign in or use "Anonymous." Leave your name or initials if you wish so I'll know it's you? Check the "Notify Me" box to see my reply to you.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Finger Painted Tears
Today I went to Liberman at the crack of dawn, which for me means leaving the house at 9:00. Katharine, the Lieberman Art Therapist and I scheduled a session with Gregory in the Art Lab to see what he could do with finger paints.
You are reminded that three or four years ago he picked up oil painting as a new hobby, under the mentorship of Nancy Rosen (http://www.nrosen.com.) He took to it like the proverbial fish to water (ironically he used to refer to himself as a fish who needs to be in water, thus swimming as often as he was able in the pool in our condo building.)
In the three short years he worked with Nancy he produced over 200 pieces, mostly large 25"x25" and 25"x35", and some smaller 10"x10". He had a show at the Lincolnwood Town Hall Gallery which was very well received and most recently a show at Lieberman in which most of the 26 paintings sold!
Since he moved to the Liberman Center he has continued to decline and has lost many more skills: like painting and swimming. But he doesn't seem to mind and continues to live as he always has with a calm demeanor.
I, on the other hand, was not as ready to let go of his painting. So I purchased thick primary crayons and colored pencils and tablets of paper. To no avail.
I found ergonomic crayons that you could grip with your fist and which were thick enough so as not to break under pressure. To no avail.
I discovered another type of crayon which you can "wear" on each finger. Picture cone shaped crayons into which you insert your finger. To no avail.
Still not giving up I purchased a box of tubes of finger paints and a large tray in which sits the finger painting glossy paper. Today that was put to the test.
Gregory was very pleased to see me and we greeted each other with hugs and kisses which is the usual. I told him that, "We are going to go paint. Would you like that?" He got very excited and gave me a chain of "Yes. Oh my. Wonderful. Wow."
On the way to the elevator his upbeat joy continued and I felt buoyant but also filled with a little dread that finger painting wouldn't work either. I put this feeling aside in the name of "If at first you don't succeed, try try try."
We got him into a silly painting apron and while Katharine went to look for large playtex gloves, Gregory and I reviewed the colors of the tubes of paint. He actually repeated after me for PURPLE, GREEN, and PINK but then stopped mimicking. He does that. He is good for the first few but then he "turns off."
It wasn't as hard to get him into the gloves as I thought it would be when we first began. He did not resist and that was good.
The reason we used gloves was not only because it would be easier to clean up his hands afterwards, but I remembered that when he was working with Nancy he hated it when his hands got dirty from the oil paints and she had to help him wash many times during a painting session.
At first Katharine and I demonstrated and encouraged. Then we put his hands through the motions. Then a small (LARGE) miracle took place.
He was actually focused on the sheet of paper and the blob of paint (he usually has trouble focusing but this time he was on task.) He began to move his hand around through the paint spreading it up and then down.
Next he began tapping his finger on the paper and noticed the colored design his tapping created.
He was having such a good time and he was really engaged with the process. Of course if it was you or me we would jump in at 9 or 10 on the finger painting scale while Gregory was woking at the 2 or 3 level, but he was working and that was wonderful.
Periodically we had to ask Gregory to pick up his head, or open his eyes, or refocus on the paints and paper but he really was enjoying himself and continued to be engaged for close to the entire 30 minutes.
I sobbed but didn't want to distract Gregory so turned it into a cough. I think Katharine noticed and I think she was as overjoyed as I was. We worked at this for about half an hour with pink and green and purple and blue and yellow.
When asked if he would like to paint again he definitely answered, "YES." So we have another play date next Friday. At that point I'll share some photographs of the process and the product.
Meanwhile, shed a finger paint tear or two with me at the joy of having been able to give this experience to Gregory. Celebrate Katharine for her patience and perseverance that payed of for Gregory. Thank Lieberman for being perceptive enough to recognize how important the arts are for all of their residents, even those severely at risk due to dementia.