Category Archives: alzheimers

A CRAFT PROJECT TO CELEBRATE THE MONTH OF MARCH

I have found by working with people in adult day care, there are two rules that remain constant. The first is not to give them too many choices. The second rule is to make them part of the process, they love to learn new things.

“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” ―English Proverb

I have included a few guidelines for putting together a monthly calendar that is both fun and educational.  

monthly craft of a calendar for adult day care.

March 2020 calendar example for adult day care

There is more to March than St. Patricks Day.  

SUPPLIES:

Supplies needed for the monthly calendar

You will need: 

tape
scissors
glue (stick glue works best)
assorted decorative tapes
assorted designs punched out of construction paper
pens to color

The particular coloring design I used can be found at THIS link.  The calendar is found HERE.   But, feel free to look around and see if there is something you find that is better suited for your purposes.  Make the copies on Cardstock.

It is easy to find thumbnail images that pertain to the important dates and birthday. I put these on one page and give them copies of it. (I am unable to show an example, but you can use regular copy paper for this).

IMPORTANT DATES FOR MARCH

St. Patricks Day – 3/17
Daylight Saving Time – 3/8
World Prayer Day – 3/6
National Plant a Flower Day – 3/21
Full Moon – 3/9
First Day of Spring – 3/19

SOME BIRTHDAYS TO CONSIDER

Garnett Morgan – born 3/4 (the inventor of the traffic light)
Pearl Bailey – born 3/29
Aretha – born 3/25

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MARCH

March was the first month of the year in the Roman calendar.

March is named for Martius, the Roman God of War. Because battles were not fought during the winter, they began again in March.

The birthstone is an aquamarine.
The flower is the daffodil.
March and June always end the month on the same day of the year.
March is considered the most unproductive month of the year in the United States. The reason? March Madness.

Again, this is just an example to get you started!!!!   This gives them consistency and also something to look forward to!! They have started asking when we are going to make a calendar for the next month.

I would love to see other examples of consistent crafts that others have used!

 

 

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING I’LL FLY AWAY

The song I’ll Fly Away is featured in this blog as part of my series MUSIC STILL REMAINS, which is an exploration of music and memory inspired by dementia – and you can read more about the series in this blog.

I begin each painting by applying texture, which is symbolic of the plaques and tangles found in the brain of those with dementia. I then handwrite the entire lyrics on the canvas. The song was suggested to me by my piano teacher. Oh, I forgot to mention, learning to play each song on the piano is part of the process of every painting.

 Many people believe this is the most recorded of all gospel songs (hard to believe, but the songs you are thinking about being more recorded are actually considered “hymns”).  In fact, this song recently made an appearance in the movie O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? – check out the video here.  It’s been recorded by a wide array of artists – from Johnny Cash to Kanye West!

I’ll Fly Away, early layers

As you can see from the above picture, the first several layers look very different from the finished painting.  I started using birds – but changed it to butterflies.  The birdcage was ultimately scaled down.  So, when it was all over and done – I took all my little supplies and made the collage below.

I’ll Fly Away, Collage on Paper 8×10 ©vickiemartin2019

 I’ll Fly Away was written in 1929, and is considered “theological escapism” – escaping earth for the joys of heaven.  Using birds and angels in the lyrics symbolizes the freedom from pain and toil.  Below are a few of the verses of the song.

Is there a song that always brings up a memory for you? I’d love to know the song and what the memory is!

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly
I’ll fly away

 

 

 

 

 

Open Studio postcard

SAVE THE DATE

JUNE 22, 2019 from 2-6pm

I’m so excited! I am having my first ever OPEN STUDIO – so put down the date!

Not only am I going to make all of my work available, but 20% of all sales will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association/Georgia Chapter. Below is a small sampling of some of the work that will be available. There should be something for everyone, with prices from $15 to $1500! In the next week – I will add a page to my website and post images of some of what will be available.

I am planning several things to make the afternoon FUN! Not only will there be light refreshments, but I am planning activities. I have a very nice patio area outside my studio (see photos below) and will set up a couple of tables so you can do a collage, paint a rock, or who knows what else I’ll come up with! If you have any ideas – let me know!

A work in progress, my walkway leading to my studio!
The entrance to my studio!

So – save the date!!!!! AND – if you want to receive an invitation in the mail, respond to this email with your address!

Hope to see you!!!!

(more…)

DEMENTIA STATISTICS

Thank you for stopping by. If you watched my video introducing my new series MUSIC STILL REMAINS, here are more statistics on Alzheimers in the United States. As an added bonus, I have include a few things NEVER to say to someone with any kind of dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States

Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the 10 leading causes of deaths in the United States that cannot be cured, prevent or slowed.

1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s.

Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 1% rise in Alzheimer’s.

By 2050, it is estimated there will be as many as 16 million American’s living with Alzheimer’s.

By 2050, there could be as many as 7 million people age 85 and older with Alzheimer’s, accounting for half of all people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s.

It is estimated by 2020, there will be 5.8 million with Alzheimers, by 2050, there will be 13.8 million. This is in people 65+.

Two thirds people with Alzheimer’s are women.

African American’s are 50% more like to have Alzheimer’s than Caucasian Americans. Hispanic Americans are 100% more like to develop it!

Here are some things never to say to a person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Don’t tell them they are wrong about something.
  • Don’t ask if they remember something.
  • Don’t remind them a love one is dead.

Learning “creative lying” helped me. My mother frequently told me she had told to her father and he was coming to get her. I would respond and tell her I had talked to him too. He told me to tell her he couldn’t come today because he had some crops he had to harvest (he was a farmer), it worked every single time.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if you have never had someone close to you with dementia, you are lucky, FOR NOW! You have a better chance of winning the lottery unless there is a cure found in our lifetime!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you will follow me on my journey with my MUSIC STILL REMAINS series!

THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING

The Clock Ticks, ©vickiemartin2018,
20×24 Mixed Media

My new series “The Rhythms of Memory” is inspired by my journey with my mother as she struggled with dementia – arguably the most feared disease that happens to be incurable. This is the story behind the painting you see above.

I began the painting with multiple layers, adding texture as I went along, representing the abundance of plaques and tangles found in the brain of dementia patients.

One question I constantly hear from those with dementia is “What time is it?” In fact, losing track of time is an early symtom of dementia, they often loose track of dates and even the seasons of the year. As the dementia progresses, routine and structure become more important to them, it helps ease their anxiety and confusion. Knowing all of this, I placed a clock face into the painting.

I also painted a hill with the steps, illustrating the daily struggles they face. The steps have a rhythm that mimics the notes on a piano keyboard – this was intentional. Music has been proven to improve memory. Watch the short video I posted below of Henry’s transformation after hearing one of his favorite musicians, Cab Calloway.


“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” Plato

This is something we have known for a very long time. After all, Plato lived from 427-347 BC!

Do particular songs evoke certain memories? Have you ever reacted to music the way Henry does in the above video? I’d love to know about it!

I used the term “dementia”. Alzheimers accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases (depending which study is referenced). Click here if you want to read the !0 Early Signs of Alzheimers.

MY FAVORITE THINGS

I am leading a weekly art project with memory impaired women. Because each project  teaches me what works and doesn’t work, I decided to document these projects.

The first project was creating a “MY FAVORITE THINGS” board, which was based on the Vision Board concept. They had great fun going through magazines and pulling out images of their favorite things.

Miss Lilliette with her “Favorite Things” board. Notice the musical notes – she played the piano at church most of her life!

This was a great way to get to know them! I learned what their favorite colors were, I learned which ones played the piano and which ones sang.

Miss Dorothy (pictured above) couldn’t wait to get her board home to have it framed! I learned she had been a professional singer in Los Angeles and held singing and acting workshops for aspiring actors! (working with Bob Barker no less!)

Miss Willa with her favorite things.

Miss Willa great up on a farm in Alabama. She told the best day of her life was the day her father told her he was tired of farming and they were all moving to Atlanta!

What did I learn?

First of all, I teach vision board workshops – and as a result I have a HUGE stash of magazines. I learned that two to three magazines PER PERSON to choose from would have been worked. Too many choices makes it difficult for them to make any choices.

I purchased poster boards from The Dollar Store (2 for $1.00). Cutting these in half was enough room for them to work with.

Also, stick glue works better, especially the kind that goes on purple and dries clear. They can see they are using the glue. Liquid glue was just too messy for many of them.

I learned they want BLING! Sequins or anything shiny is a must.

When I told them we would do a collage the next week, I was met with blank stares – they didn’t know what a collage was! So – next week I will give them a lesson on collage, and show them the work of Romare Bearden! Giving them a weekly art lesson is going to be fun, I will learn more about African American artists and share it with them.

If you have any lessons you have learned, I’d love to hear about it!

LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART

“Alice” had been in totally non-verbal and in memory care for over a year. The only sounds she made was a strange clicking noise. But the clicks she made had a rhythm. A visiting music therapist began experimenting with this rhythm and after some hit and misses, he finally realized it was the rhythm to the song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. This is what she had been trying to communicate. When she heard the song, she began humming along, eventually singing the words. This was the song that was used in her wedding! 

I found a piece of music, did a little research on the history of the song, even played it on the piano a few times, and the above collage was born, complete with hearts. The words on the right “SILVER THREADS AMONG THE GOLD” is music from a player piano which is pre-programmed music recorded on perforated paper.

Music and memory has become such a popular topic there is a wikipedia page dedicated to Music-related Memory.  Music engages MORE parts of the brain that anything else we do. First of all, it connects the left and the right parts of the brain. But that isn’t all it does, tt engages movement, even it is just clapping or tapping your toe. Music engages the auditory cortex, and it engages the hippocampus – which is where memory is stored, And of course, there is an emotional response to music.

In dementia patients, familiar music has been proven to reduce agitation, improve social interaction and facilitate cognition. Music has also been proven to reduce depression, a common occurrence with dementia patients.  We know dementia destroys the areas of the brain responsible for episodic memory, but usually procedural memory is retained.  What is procedural memory?   lt is the long-term memory which aids the performance of particular types of tasks without conscious awareness of these previous experiences.

If you know a story about the effect of an individual piece of music on an individual, I’d love to hear about it. There have to be dozens of stories like this out there that seem to prove that music has the ability to “wake” people up.

In case, you don’t remember how this song goes, here is a quick video of Martha Levison (Shirley McClain) in an episode of Downton Abbey.

 

 

MOM’S MOST REQUESTED DESSERT – ORANGE TAPIOCA SALAD


I am not really a dessert person, but I loved mom’s Orange Tapioca Salad, even though I would classify it as a pudding. Mom made this for every family event – what I considered a staple. But when I decided to use her recipe, I found the ingredients hard to find. In fact, I had to order the tapioca pudding on-line! I will continue the tradition and make it for special events. In fact, I have a solo art show coming up,  and because the show is inspired by and dedicated to my mom, I think I’ll whip up a batch and take it. The show was also inspired by dementia, you can read more about it here.

When I was looking around for the tapioca pudding mix, I realized I have always heard of tapioca, but what is it really? Tapioca is a starch that is extracted from the Cassava root.

 While similar to yucca, the cassava and the yucca are not the same plant.  It is a starchy tuberous root that is native to South America, and is now grown around the world. It is one of the most drought-tolerant in the world.

You can download the recipe here.

 

THE RHYTHMS OF MEMORY – A DAUGHTER’S JOURNEY

 

OPENING RECEPTION APRIL 21, 2018; 5-9p

Art-Haus

332 Ormond St. NE

Atlanta, Ga. 

Dementia and Alzheimers are probably the most feared incurable diseases there are. As the people are living longer and the population is aging, most of us will be affected by some form of dementia. This series is inspired by my mother’s journey into dementia.

I begin each painting with multiple layers achieving a tactile surface. The layers are symbolic of the abundance of plaques and tangles that are found in the brain of Alzheimers/Dementia patients.

Each piece represents a different aspect of what I observed during mom’s struggle.

The first is the isolation and the feeling of invisibility patients frequently experience. A figure is painted on a multi-layered textured background. The entire surface is painted out and with mark making the figures begin to emerge from the background, while still being faint and translucent.

Some paintings illustrate the confusion that comes with this disease.I make seemingly random marks creating chaos. Using pen and ink, the lines and dots are connected bringing order to the composition.

Connect the Dots – 18×24

Let Me Call you Sweetheart, 8×10 collage, framed 11×14

There are also a series of collages illustrating the power of music, which has been proven to be an effective treatment to help patients access their memory. As the grand-daughter of both a piano tuner and music teacher, this is close to my heart. Each collage included is based on a particular song that has been proven to be effective. 

The inspiration for the piece on the right is a powerful story.  A woman had been verbally unresponsive for a year. But, when we heard this song on the piano, she began humming along, ultimately singing the words. They found this was the song used in her wedding.

 

 

The work shows those with dementia can still be present and they still have stories to share.

For the opening on April 21, 2018, two pieces will be auctioned and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Georgia Alzheimers Association.

These pieces are valued at $600 apiece. 

 

If you have any stories to share, please put them in the comments. 

 

MOM’S SWEET POTATO DISH


This is my first Thanksgiving without my mother. I feel the quote below from Dr. Seuss says it all!

“Don’t cry because it is over. Smile because it happened.”

Since today is Thanksgiving, this seems to be a  good time to make a commitment to cooking her recipes and ultimately compiling them into a cookbook for her family.  

I have chosen a sweet potato dish, which we always referred to at Thanksgiving as a Sweet Potato Souffle’.  It was a staple of our Thanksgiving meal for as long as I can remember. However, I’m not sure why it was called a souffle’, because it doesn’t remotely resemble the definition of a souffle’ below.

“A soufflé is a baked egg-based dish which originated in early eighteenth century France. It is made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert.”

In fact, the recipe is so old, the word souffle’ has been scratched out and replaced with the word “dish”. This was a staple for many years during the holidays and it never failed to please! But, the recipe itself changed over the years – for instance, 1 1/2 cups of sugar has dwindled to 3/4 cup of sugar – I can’t imagine how sweet this would have been with that much sugar in it.

The dish itself is only 7 ingredients, It is a pretty simple recipe, but a very tasty dish. You can download the recipe HERE.