Grace Holliday, Artist in Residence at Loveday gives an insight into the power that art can have for the elderly, particularly those living with dementia:
The power of art is infinite for maintaining well-being and mental health. It opens up accessible methods of expression and communication, whilst promoting everyday empowerment with a sense of wonder.
Across the arts programme at Loveday Residences, I am constantly inspired by the stories shared and the impact demonstrated by how art can continue to heal and comfort us throughout our lives. It is something that makes us feel a part of something, inviting a sense of community that can truly make all the difference. What I have observed in the emergence of newfound confidence after taking part in the various projects and briefs is truly inspiring. Art is joy, the importance of which can never be underestimated.
The Loveday Arts curriculum has been a huge success, helping to improve mood, motor skills, and cognition. This can be evidenced particularly through one resident who was not very social or participatory in art or any other group activities.
Slowly, this Member began to observe the art classes, getting to know the welcoming environment and experiences, before eventually experimenting and engaging with all aspects of the programme. She is now a permanent member of the workshops; fully involved, interested and communicative. Art classes are now a social time for her, where she interacts and converses with other residents, even conducting demonstrations of techniques and helping others by offering creative suggestions.
The pride in her work is remarkable and her confidence has escalated. She is now noticeably more animated with enthusiasm and friendly competitiveness in striving to produce “the very best art work”. Fondly referred to as ‘the resident art critic’ she brings humour, ideas, and insights to the group on a regular basis where her open sense of communication and critique is celebrated.
Art has enabled this lady to really bond with the staff, who all join in on the workshops. Over time, this has formed a sense of close collaboration that invites a feeling of familiarity, connection, and support. The effect of which can be felt both within and outside of workshops. Having such a strong network has enabled her creativity to also present itself in storytelling, enjoying a group dynamic built upon learning and sharing together. She is laughing, joking, and smiling whilst previously she was withdrawn and sometimes sad, wanting to keep herself to herself. The joy and positive change that art has bestowed in this particular resident’s wellbeing really is a complete transformation, it’s absolutely remarkable.
When I first met this Member, she seemed preoccupied with worry and often quite distracted or distant. However, through the sensitive and tailored approach of the creative programme at Loveday Chelsea Court Place, I have witnessed first-hand how the arts have helped her to really blossom and grow creatively. This newfound fondness for making seems to have given her something to focus on, take ownership over and interact in a really positive way. Each week I look forward not only to seeing the beautiful visual artwork she produces but also to being part of this journey with her, enjoying her company as a unique presence within the group!
Art can be enjoyed by people regardless of age, ability, or cognitive ability and can be a transformative therapeutic pastime.