Lynchburg, VA - A new program with the Alzheimer's Association and Maier Museum at Randolph College is hoping art will speak to people suffering from dementia and their loved ones.
Maier Museum volunteer Kristin Harris has shown a lot of people the art that hangs in the museum.
"I've looked at this painting for years, and I see new things every time," Harris said.
Now this work of art is a way for Harris to help reach people living with Alzheimer's. The new Art Fusion program is one close to Harris' heart.
"I am really here because my mother had Alzheimer's. I am doing this for her. She loved art," Harris said.
Patients and their caregivers can come once a month and talk about some of the works with docents, or museum volunteers.
Sharon Celsor-Hughes, creative arts director with the Alzheimer's Association, said the program is already working wonders in places like Charlottesville.
"When somebody is diagnosed with dementia so much of their life is focused on the disease, the care taker too. This is an activity that is a social activity they can come to," she said. "We find with the way Alzheimer's works is that didactic information goes first but perception, creative ability, emotion, that sticks and art work speaks to that. Some of the caregivers have even said they've learned so much from this. They've learned how to phrase questions or work with the strengths remaining instead of focusing on what's lost."
While it helps Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers connect, it's also helping volunteers like Harris remember her own mother's struggle.
"It's a way for me to share my love of art, which was very much from her, and I can't do it with her now,' Harris said. "But I can do it with others."
The art fusion program will be available once a month at the Maier Museum in Lynchburg. It's for people in the early stages of Alzheimer's still living in their homes.
Celsor-Hughes said they're also expanding the program in Danville, Roanoke and the Homestead.
To find an art fusion program available where you live, call 434-973-6122 ext.123.