Art and Alzheimer’s
Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s 83rd birthday, but sadly Vascular dementia combined with Alzheimer’s caused her final stroke this past August. We celebrated her love for life with her favorite dinner and game, remembering her final months.
The previous 5 months were spent with us, on the “farm” as she called it. We do have chickens and goats, she would “baa at”. We even planted seeds in March, which she eventually tended on the deck in her Garden. We had the one out on the lawn, and she would try and spray water at you. This also included the many PSW’s who trusted her with the shower hose!
Right from the beginning of her stay, the change due to the Alzheimer’s was fast. Every day we tried to keep her mind occupied with activities, walks, outings, planting. I found her drawn to the kid-sized 100 piece puzzles, I had saved. This was interesting since she was never interested in them before. She would try so hard to maneuver the pieces, and stay focused for a long time
One of our first activities was an acrylic painting, I set up paints, canvas, easel and cushioned rocking chair with a view outside. Since it was still March with lots of snow, I had leaned our old wagon wheel to the side of the driveway earlier. At first she argued as to what she would paint, and I pointed to the wheel. Then I quickly penciled a stick wheel, and she sat right down. Over an hour passed before she grew tired, and never finished that painting but always looked at it. After that I could only encourage her to do some colouring, with crayons, on a Teddy Bear Doodle.
It was quite an experience to live with and see first hand the effects of these diseases that affect not just our minds, but eventually the inability to control your body. There were days with moments of clarity and she would ask why she couldn’t remember things any more. Those times were the hardest times as well, but, the best times for her to look at photos, and anything to jog her memories really.
Her tomatoes ripened just after her stroke, and the roses started blooming. We made lots of tomato dishes and brought the roses inside. They have since bloomed again, just in time for her birthday.