Painting a picture of dementia

It’s painting with a twist for people with early-onset dementia.

Horace Mitchell Primary School has partnered with the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Kittery Estates to have third graders teach those with dementia about art. The new pilot program, “Heart to Art,” aims to combat feelings of isolation, confusion, fear and anxiety among those in the earlier stages of the disease.

“This initiative is actually part of a larger effort in which we are partnering with community organizations to take their own approaches in working with and welcoming local citizens living with dementia,” says Laurie Trenholm, executive director of the Maine chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to Seacost Online. “It is our hope that Heart to Art taps into what is possible—what persons living with dementia can do—as a way to help build self-esteem and to maintain a vital sense of identify while enjoying their time working with the students.”

Students chose art projects they learned in art class to teach their senior partners. One week, they tried at their hand at Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The four-art lesson program concludes in March, but Mark Penchenik, the chapter’s manager of community engagement and outreach, says the program exceeded their expectations. He says they will work with the school to start a regular intergenerational art program.


Topics: Activities , Alzheimer's/Dementia