Sudbury

Art book helps people with Alzheimer's reconnect with past

Painting Memories: Alzheimer's and Art is a collaboration between Nancy Gareh, the gallery's curator of education and public programming, Cindy Pilkey, a coordinator with the Alzheimer Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay and Districts, and local artist Ruth Reid.

The book includes 5 art projects for people with memory impairments

Panting Memories: Alzheimer's and Art was launched at the Art on the Go for Seniors exhibition on Thursday. The book includes five art activities for people with Alzheimer's and memory impairment. (Art Gallery of Sudbury)

A new book from the Art Gallery of Sudbury is helping local seniors with Alzheimer's reconnect with their past.

Painting Memories: Alzheimer's and Art is a collaboration between Nancy Gareh, the gallery's curator of education and public programming, Cindy Pilkey, a coordinator with the Alzheimer Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay and Districts, and local artist Ruth Reid. 

The book includes five art projects for people with Alzheimer's and other memory impairments. Gareh said each project includes a prompt to help participants get started. 

"A blank page is kind of a scary thing, and especially for Alzheimer's, they need a little bit of prompting to get them going," she said. 
Painting Memories: Alzheimer's and Art is a collaboration between Sudbury artist Ruth Reid, the Alzheimer's Society and the Art Gallery of Sudbury. (Art Gallery of Sudbury)

Gareh said the goal of the book is to encourage self-expression and communication through art. She said people with Alzheimer's often reconnect with forgotten memories when they are painting.

"It's just a really simple starting point for people to start remembering and thinking about things," she said.  

'I really thought it was something worthy'

Gareh said the idea for the book came out of Art on the Go for Seniors, a program where local community artists run classes at local seniors' centres and the Alzheimer Society.

"[The artists] were just over the years always coming back to me with stories," Gareh said. "All these amazing stories of people and how...different lessons and different approaches that we took were affecting them."

"So it was just something that stuck in my head for a long time, and I really thought it was something worthy that we should be writing down."

'It seems to get a whole room going'

Gareh said the book is just a sampling of what the art gallery has done since it started offering programming for seniors in 2005. She said Art on the Go encourages seniors to socialize with each other through the medium of art.

"Just bringing seniors together in a room, and getting them to share memories and talk about stories — those are things that help them reconnect," she said.

"It seems to get a whole room going."

Artwork from the year is put on display at the annual community art exhibition, where the Painting Memories book was officially launched on Thursday.

With the launch of the book, Gareh is now looking forward to the future of the program.

"What we want to do….is take this to other communities and hopefully use this program model so that it can benefit seniors in other communities," she said.  

The Art on the Go Seniors community exhibition, which runs until July 6 at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, features artwork from the Art Gallery of Sudbury's seniors' program. (Art Gallery of Sudbury)

Painting Memories: Alzheimer's and Art is available on the Art Gallery of Sudbury website and in the gallery gift shop.

The Art on the Go for Seniors community art exhibition runs until July 6th at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. You can visit the exhibition Tuesdays through Fridays, from noon to 6:00 p.m.

now