When I signed up for this class I knew only a sliver of information on Dementia, mostly consisting of what I now see as stigmas. The readings we discussed in class were helpful to further my knowledge, and even Still Alice was helpful in understanding just how fast one can progress. I learned that the process of memory loss isn’t linear thus there are good and bad days.
Taking this information with me to Elderberry Club I was really surprised the first few visits that my Elderberry partner seemed to be just like any other older adult I knew. She forgot some things, remembered some other things, nothing that seemed out of place to me. She told me all about her granddaughter and how amazingly wonderful she is. It wasn’t until the next visit that I realized something was wrong. She didn’t remember whom this girl was and was puzzled by her presence—it was like the granddaughter she told me all about never existed. That really tore me up, especially being as close as I was to my grandma, I couldn’t imagine what I’d do if she had forgotten me. Even though I wasn’t her granddaughter, I think I may have reacted as if I was, upset for a while after and thinking about how devastating it would be not to remember things of such importance.
There was a light though, that same day she told me that she remembered the bright colors of the week before. I asked her further about what she remembered. She told me she had liked some colors she had seen in someone else’s painting and that day went home and recreated something similar. She mentioned that she was able to visualize bright colors easier, thus that’s why she must remember them.
From working together I learned how picky she can be with colors, she carefully thinks before putting any color down. I may have once thought this was indecision, but after getting to know her passion to carefully decide what color is what, I now know to let her be. She is just as particular as every other artist when picking colors— she wants to consider the consequences of the relationships of one color to the next. Orange flowers are given blue leaves, and when I question why they aren’t green I get the simple response: “this looks better,” and she’s right.
My member is fully capable to produce artwork that I would be proud to make.
~Emily, Art & Design U of M Student