Alzheimer’s is one of the most common diseases in seniors resulting in impaired functioning and relationships. Initial symptoms of it usually start around the mid 60’s. It causes problems with one’s thinking, memory, and even behaviour. Scientific studies claim that it accounts for 50-60% of dementia cases. Since it is an irreversible and progressive brain disorder, sufferers end up unable to do their daily routine. They are also emotionally unstable and often depressed. The effects it has on the patient’s family members are also equally hurtful in all aspects of the word. With these said, it is important for family members & carers of the sufferers to engage them in worthwhile activities. This is what Kempsey Men’s Shed volunteer Dave Smith does. He generously works with Alzheimer’s patients to produce brightly-coloured toys for the kids of Angola, Africa.
Since it is an irreversible and progressive brain disorder, sufferers end up unable to do their daily routine
On Working with Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Dave Smith has been making toys for the African children for 2 years now. He used to work for only 15 hours a week until he decided to do it full-time. Handmade wooden helicopters, trailers, and car toys fill his workstation. They started making toys from recycled timber from an industrial pallet. A man with Parkinson’s disease shapes the toys up. The other men sand the toys and put on 2 coats of paint on them. The rest of the Kempsey’s elderly community, including those seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, help him finish the toys.
Just recently, the senior ladies told him that young girls don’t want to play with cars. Because of this, they now also do giraffes and ducks as ‘pull-along’ animals on wheels. He is so grateful for the elderly volunteers who help him get the job done. In fact, they have sent over 3 boxes full of toys this year. Additionally, 500 more wooden toys are ready for shipping as of this writing.
I had 3 elderly ladies who kept racing each other. One was 93 years old and she would say I have done 15 today, how many have you finished?
Furthermore, Smith said that doing the free crafting classes for the elderly in Kempsey keeps him happy and passionate. Likewise, the seniors who help him finish the toys are not only having fun. They also take pride in being part of an advocacy that they believe in.
Meanwhile, the toys they create won’t solve the problems in Africa but will definitely make the kids joyful.
The Benefits of Art Therapy for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Many studies showed that art therapy is beneficial for seniors with Alzheimer’s. The activity somewhat gives back what the disease has taken away from the sufferers. More than keeping them busy, any form of art, just like creating these wooden toys, stimulates their brain. They have something to look forward to. The involvement in art can even stir language again in somebody who’s struggling to speak.
Art also connects them socially. Eventually, they don’t feel isolated anymore
In fact, research published in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences backs these claims. According to the study, artwork helps patients recall events. It boosts the cognitive side of the brain. While the art cannot bring back the lost memories, it gives the seniors an enjoyable experience. They also feel a sense of accomplishment for themselves. There are also other notable benefits of art observed in Alzheimer’s patients. These include using a paintbrush to communicate with others in the case of those who have difficulty with speech. Another is that it lessens aggressive behaviour. Art also connects them socially. Eventually, they don’t feel isolated anymore.
Obviously, making wooden toys as a form of art won’t cure the illness. However, this gives them the chance to participate in something worthwhile. It stimulates their mind in a new direction. They feel happy making use of their creativity. These are all the wonderful differences art brings in the life of Alzheimer’s patients who are progressively declining. Besides, nothing is more heartwarming than seeing a loved one enjoying something in their later life.