Benefits of art therapy for dementia patients

Many different therapy techniques are researched, trialled and tested when it comes to slowing down the deterioration of dementia. Whilst there is no cure for the disease, there are many studies that show the benefits of art therapy. This is a huge part of our model at Atlas Care as we use art therapy techniques across every aspect of our business. These include our dementia day care offerings, workshops at The Ness Shed, our memory cafes and also during our dementia home care sessions.

In this article, we answer some common questions around art therapy, outline some of the research behind the benefits of art therapy for dementia patients, and provide you with more insight into the activities we support our members with across our centres.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a technique used by caregivers and care professionals to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals living with dementia.

Whilst many people with the disease lose some aspect of their communication skills, art therapy allows them to express themselves in a more creative way.

What are the benefits of art therapy for dementia patients?

  • Increased brain stimulation – brain stimulation, if not intervened with, will progressively decline, so art therapy provides a way to stimulate their minds and help them to engage in simple activities more easily. Studies have shown that cognitive development will improve through art therapy techniques.
  • Improved memory – asking an individual with dementia to draw or paint something from a photo may jog memories of their past. Whilst it won’t likely bring back the whole memory, it may bring back a sense of joy and happiness which will help patients to reminisce.
  • Provides them with a sense of achievement – there is no better feeling than seeing the pride on their face once they create something beautiful and unique. This sense of achievement will boost their confidence in other similar activities.
  • Allows individuals to express their creativity – in some cases, people with dementia find it hard to express their feelings and creativity verbally. By using art as a tool, it allows them to get their thoughts and feelings down on paper. Is there a theme to what they are painting or certain colours they gravitate more towards?
  • Boosts physical strength – most art and creative activities require small amounts of physical movement and strength.
  • Increased use of their hands will avoid health problems occurring or deteriorating.
  • Enhances mood and general wellbeing – unfortunately, there is a correlation between dementia and feeling down and lonely. However, engaging in creative activities has proved to enhance the mood of the individual and improve general wellbeing.

What art therapy techniques can you do at home?

Creative activities and art therapy don’t need to be expensive or hard to set up, something as simple as getting a colouring book for your loved one is a step in the right direction and will stimulate the brain in a different way they may not be used to. In between dementia home care sessions, this works really well.

Another activity you can both get involved in is jigsaw puzzles. Choose a colourful one that isn’t too tricky as you don’t want them getting frustrated, a puzzle is something that they can come back to every now and then.

Have a read of this article written by the Alzheimer’s Society on 5 creative activities to help people with dementia >>

Art therapy at Atlas Care

Whilst the menu of activities we offer our members at our dementia day centre is ever-changing, creative activities are hugely popular and are in one way or another included in our member’s day.

At The Ness Dementia Centre, we take part in both indoor and outdoor creative activities to get their minds working and creative juices flowing. These may include creating art for our walls, experimenting with mixed media art projects or heading out in our garden to see what they can find to paint or draw.

We also run a more dedicated art therapy session 1-2 times a week at The Ness Shed. These sessions are 2 hours long and involve a professional potter showing a small group of around 4-5 people with varying degrees of dementia how to make something unique and beautiful.

Pottery is a very calming and relaxing creative activity that has many benefits, and allows the individual to see their art project progress throughout their session. Our pottery classes also really help to improve socialisation, but are not overwhelming due to the small numbers we accept. The pottery therapy sessions are £20 per head.

If your loved one is not ready for group classes, we also offer home enablement, where our professionals will bring creative activities to them.

“My Husband attends The Ness Dementia Centre in Teignmouth twice a week and really enjoys going. All staff are extremely caring and make the time spent there a wonderful experience with all the different activities they provide.” – Janet, Wife

Book a free trial and join a dementia therapy session

With so many options available to get involved, whether it’s less regular pottery classes, longer-term dementia day care or dementia home care, Atlas Care will adapt the activities and member timetable based on the individual. We encourage new members to visit the centre to get a feel for it themselves. We offer a free trial that can be booked by calling 01626 774799 or emailing [email protected], alternatively visit our website for more information.

We look forward to welcoming you and your loved one to our centres.