Pop art was the inspiration for two of the projects we did at Silver Club. I discussed color choices with my Silver Club partner. We decided to put the cool colors across from each other diagonally, and then warm colors across from each other. Then I asked her in which room of her home she would display her artwork. I suggested the living room. She dismissed this, saying instead that it would be better to put it in her own room. She could not imagine these rather loud colors would match with her daughter’s more conservative living room décor. It probably would not match at all, but she liked the compliment and I brought a smile to her face.
I carefully held down the stencils as my partner painted them in. She was very deliberate about mixing the paint to just the right consistency and not pressing the brush down so hard that the paint bled. A few times she began to inadvertently paint on the styrofoam stencil instead of on the paper. By the second or third time that she did this, I realized it was because of her memory loss that she could not recall the steps. I remembered this from my training, and also that she might be feeling sensitive and self-conscious about her memory lapses. So I smiled and gently reminded her. She was patient with me, and I was patient with her. Besides, we were having fun.
Once the squares were all painted, we chatted a bit as we allowed them to dry. Then I handed her pieces of double-sided tape to adhere to the backs of the colored paper squares. We then positioned the squares onto black cardstock. It looked amazing, especially considering how people with dementia are stereotyped as being incapable of creativity. My partner beamed with pride as I put her artwork on the wall along with the other projects. We were all gathered in a semi-circle around the artwork. We sat back and looked at all of the artwork on the wall. Some had very good craftsmanship. Some were more abstract. A couple of them also incorporated the white styrofoam stencils themselves into the design. All were unique.
The Silver Club facilitator led the discussion about the artwork, and more than half of the members eagerly participated. She addressed each of them by name and warmly engaged them in a thoughtful and fun discussion of the work. The members were far from the stereotype: old, catatonic, and senile they were not. They were more animated, insightful and pleased with themselves than one might expect a group of older adults with dementia to be. We all agreed when the facilitator suggested that the works collectively resembled a colorful quilt.
This session went very well and it looked like we all had a pleasant time. Before she left, my partner gave me a big hug and told me “I love you”. I am so happy that I can make a difference in her life.