Moving into the regimented institutional patterns of a long-term care
facility after a life of relative freedom and independence can be unsettling
to an older adult, to say the least. It can be overwhelming. Withdrawal is
a common response. It’s not unusual to see residents nodding off in nursing
home corridors, staring into space or talking to themselves. Participation in
Art With Elders classes can promote healthy engagement.
Art activates the imagination; causes us to see rather than merely to look at an object; equips us with a different “language” to express ourselves; focuses mental energies; puts us more consciously in touch with ourselves; and opens up deeper meaning in our lives.
There are approximately 375 seniors currently participating in AWE. More than 80% of them pick up a brush for the first time in an AWE class.
"I love to have a paintbrush in my hand and feel I live in another world when I’m painting. Sometimes I think – did I really do that? The paintings I made are my heart and soul and things I love. Art can bring out feelings you didn’t know you had. And best of all you can be yourself. It’s a good feeling to know I am an artist."
Resident, Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living, Danville
“Art is a window to the world. More people should take advantage of this art program. It's self-expression with no rules, no limits, no bounds. What happens between you and the artistic medium you are working with is creation."
Resident, Laguna Honda, San Francisco
"Look how absorbed everyone in the class is in what they're doing. I like to draw people, to show their personality and their feelings. I practice in my room, too. All I do now is read and draw."
Resident, Mountain View Healthcare Center, Mountain View
"I'm crazy about painting. When I'm painting I don't want to do anything else. I forget everything else. Painting is better than science."
Former Doctor and Current Resident, Lytton Gardens, Palo Alto
"When I turned 80 I said all I wanted was paints, brushes and acrylics. I tried clay but it didn't satisfy my love of colors. My motto is that I'm too old to do anything that I don't enjoy."
Resident, Silverado Senior Living, Belmont