PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Painting: Successful or Not?

Didn't have a chance to tell about Gregory's most recent painting experience. Until the end it seemed like the session was not going to be successful.

Last time we used thin, plastic food handlers gloves and felt that perhaps they got in the way of Gregory's actually "feeling" the painting. So this time we decided to try the latex medical gloves again.

It took forever to get the latex gloves on because he would not open his hands. Clenched into tight fists, he resisted all attempts at getting him to relax.

I knew that the longer it took to actually start painting, and the more struggle we had in getting to that point, the less success we would have with the actual painting.

Katharine and I both kept calm and kept at it. Once the latex gloves were on, and once his painting shirt was on, we began.

He had a difficult time focusing. I am not sure he once spontaneously "painted" without our trying to move his hands for him. We moved the painting tray around at every angle from flat to a 90 degree angle. One was not more successful than another.

We put bright colors on the paper, announcing the color name, and trying to get him to look at the paper. Difficult. We dropped paint from the tube four or six inches above the paper, while placed in his view to see if the movement would help. Difficult.

We moved his hands around, tapped his fingers, etc to try to set him in motion and to loosen him up a bit. Difficult. He has difficulty focusing and several times when prompted, "Look at the painting," he replied "I am!" But he wasn't. Difficult.

When overwhelmed or needing to 'shut down' he has an easily recognizable posture, closing his eyes and rolling his head, shoulders, and body forward as far as they can go towards his lap. It is his way of saying "This is too much for me right now." Katharine and I backed off and let him withdraw for a while before cajoling him back.

It was time to finish up as we were close to dinner time. We asked, "Do you want to continue?" He replied, "No."

"Ok, then we will stop," we confirmed. He replied, "No." but we stopped anyway.

We had now reached the end of this painting session which had seemed unsuccessful, should I say a failure? We took off Gregory and our gloves and removed his painting shirt. I held the tray and painted paper (whose marks were more Katharine and mine,) showing Gregory and saying, "Isn't that beautiful?"

To our amazement he focused on the paper for a very long time without any coaxing. He whispered, "Oh. Oh. Beautiful. Wonderful." Several times. He looked up and down, left and right, admiring 'his work' and repeated, "Oh. Oh. Beautiful. Wonderful," in a whisper that was almost sacred.

Katharine and I looked at each other in wonder. As we were leaving I said to Katharine, and she agreed, "That last part made the whole experience worth while!"

Next week we are going to try an easel that is perpendicular to the table and use Craypas, fat Crayolas, colored pencils, and markers. Always experimenting to see how we can make the experience better for Gregory.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, thanks on Gregory's behalf for continuing to find activities that stimulate and help engage him and allow him to be an active participant in his own life. What you're doing is absolutely wonderful and great example for other caregivers around the world <3


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