Reducing Caregiver Stress While Enhancing Quality of Life for a Person with Dementia

 

Engaging in the Arts Leads to Quality of Life

The thought of “Engaging in the arts” while being a caregiver for a person with dementia, can sometimes stop people in their tracks. This video will put your mind at ease and help you to add this powerful strategy to your toolbox of caregiving super powers.

You’re Not Alone if You Shy Away from Using the Arts in Your Role as a Caregiver

The majority of caregivers I’ve had the pleasure of working with, did not consider themselves to be creative when we first started our work together, but they do now and they’re very proud of it! I’m going to show you how to add this very important strategy to your caregiver toolbox.

The 3 Plagues of Eldercare are:

  • loneliness
  • hopelessness, and
  • boredom.

Engaging in the arts with your loved one, is very effective in reducing and eliminating all 3 of these plagues.  So please stay with me here.

When I casually mention to family or professional caregivers, that I teach strategies for using the arts in caregiving, it’s not unusual to encounter one of the following reactions:

  • “Art?  What kind of art?” or
  • “I’m not creative.  There’s no way I can do this!” or
  • “I don’t have time to track down ideas for art activities!” 

So let me say this, right from the start.  If you have not been using arts-based activities as a part of your strategy and toolkit as a caregiver, you are missing out on something very powerful and enjoyable.  But let’s just address those 3 common reactions I mentioned, even before looking at  the incredible benefits the arts can have for you as a caregiver and for your loved one with dementia.

“Art?  What kind of art?”

The simple answer is, “Any kind of art.” 

  • It could be any of the visual arts such as drawing, painting, pastels, printmaking or collage - just to name a few.  
  • It could be musical arts such as singing, rhythm, movement, playing an instrument or simply listening to music together.
  • It could be sculptural arts such as modelling with clay, or wire, doll making or puppet making.
  • It might be fibre arts like felting, knitting, crochet, needle punching, rug hooking, sewing or quilt making. 
  • Drama, puppetry, and other types of theatre experiences and performance are ideal!
  • It could be literary arts which may include storytelling, poetry, songwriting or script-writing.
  • Photography, scrapbooking, memory boxes, gardening, and nature arts are also arts modalities that provide hours of inspiration, engagement, creativity and joy!

If you haven’t started to relax a bit about the many possibilities of art-making together, then let’s visit the objection.

“I’m not creative.  There’s no way I can do this!”

First of all, it is not the OUTCOME of the artwork that is important - whether it is your work, your loved one or client’s work, or the work you create together, the PROCESS is the important part. It is in the process of creating, where the magic happens - the connection, creative expression, shared stories, joy!

No previous art-making experience is needed at all.

Try it - you’ll like it. There are so many benefits for you too!

I encourage you to try out the activity you have in mind, by yourself first. This is beneficial in a couple of important ways.  First of all, taking the time to try out a new activity for yourself can be very therapeutic for you.  Creating (without self-judgement) is an excellent way to take a break, reducing your own stress, and giving your confidence a boost.  It also allows you to make note of any tweaks you might want to make, for the activity to be more accessible and enjoyable for your loved one.

Keep the materials handy after your solo trial run, so they’re all ready to go for your shared art-making session. 

Co-Creating Builds Relationships

Co-creating (working on an art activity together as equal partners) is a very effective way of creating something special that is unlike anything either of you could do independently.  It opens up all sorts of opportunities to communicate, share stories, be playful, laugh, experiment and have fun.

Have you used art-making activities with your family member, friend or client with dementia?  If so, please post in the comments below.  I’d love to hear about your experience.

No time to track down engaging activities?

The other objection I hear a lot is, “I don’t have time to track down ideas for art activities!”  That very comment, from so many different people, was one of the motivating factors in starting my business, Artful Connections.  Believe me when I say that I am well aware of how little time caregivers have.  It can be an all consuming job that leaves you exhausted and stressed on a daily basis.  So - We’ve done the hard part for you!  All Artful Connections activities are designed for caregivers. The rewards of co-creating in your role as a caregiver are many.  During the process of co-creating you are:

  • building meaningful connection
  • learning about creative expression together
  • each bringing your own particular “flair” to the project
  • each tapping into your own creative well of ideas & experience
  • having fun & creating moments of joy.

Every activity comes complete with a materials list, and I’ll be building up an inventory of tutorials on the Artful Connections YouTube channel, to make it even easier.  So - please make sure you subscribe.  The link is:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwKFPRnnF1QdDjhHEujhM6Q

Would you like to go deeper?

To help you develop your confidence and skills on a more creative journey as a caregiver, we have a very special gift for you!  “Using the Arts to Create Joy & Connection” is a FREE online course so you can go deeper with using the arts to enhance quality of life in your role as a caregiver.  The course includes 3 awesome arts-based activities so you can get started right away.  Downloadable activity sheets are included!  To learn more and to register, go to this link:  https://www.artfulconnections.ca/landing-page-for-using-the-arts-to-create-joy-connection

If you liked this video, give us a thumbs up and subscribe to the Artful Connections YouTube channel at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwKFPRnnF1QdDjhHEujhM6Q  The next video in this series explores “Co-Creating:  What it Means and Why it Works”

See you next time!

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