Birchaven Village residents with dementia recently created lasting works of art for the public to admire, in a collaboration between Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) and the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum.
A group of BVHS volunteers first received training in the Dementia Friends USA approach, which teaches community members how to better understand what it’s like to live with dementia, and how to interact with and communicate with people experiencing memory challenges.
Lindsey Buddelmeyer, leadership education and training specialist at BVHS, explained that “volunteers encounter people who have been diagnosed with dementia in a variety of settings, and the greater their understanding of what their lives are like, the better they will be able to meet their needs.”
These volunteers and residents looked together through children’s books supplied by the Mazza Museum. Residents then created artwork inspired by scenes in the picture books that resonated with them.
In addition to giving the residents a chance to express their creativity, the project allowed volunteers and residents to bond with one another on a one-on-one basis.
Buddelmeyer has found that residents with dementia are capable of more than people may realize. The artistic effort gives them a chance to keep their minds active.
“They are amazing people,” she said. “Creating art allows them to express themselves in a way that is truly, authentically them. These residents are gaining confidence, while BVHS volunteers meanwhile can further develop their own skills in working with those they serve. Forming these strong social connections is also healing for both the residents and the volunteers.”
The completed artwork will be taken to the Mazza Museum to be framed and displayed on the 1-2-3 Remember Me Wall. The pieces will be on display for one year, at which point they will be replaced with new artwork created by residents.
“I look at that wall as a wall of strength, a wall of abilities,” Buddelmeyer said. “Community members, and visitors to the museum, will enjoy admiring the residents’ artwork. And they just may be surprised at the depth of these residents’ talents, and at how much they still have to share with the world.”
For more information about Birchaven Village, visit https://www.birchaven.org/birchaven-village/birchaven-village-home