Art evokes memories

Art as a medium is known to allow us to connect with one another in a meaningful way, while learning a new skill. In line with our best of care approach, art therapy is a popular activity at a number of our aged care communities.

Residents from Baptcare's Karana Community recently visiting the Ian Potter Centre of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Many of these residents are currently active participants of the Art Therapy program at Karana, a program that has provided a safe and supportive space where residents have been able to creatively share life stories and express themselves.

Karana Art Therapist, Kaity Leenheers said residents immerse themselves in a variety of creative mediums and styles of art, or sometimes simply flick though an art book with a cuppa whilst having a chat with friends.

"We explore subjects such as impressionist paintings of places we have visited throughout our lifetime, to still life drawings of memorabilia from our pastimes, collaging with natural materials from the garden, Mandala making to sculpting with clay - we have experimented widely," said Kaity.

Kaity added the sessions were beyond pure aesthetics, adding some residents prefered abstract making to express what is present for them in the moment.

"It enhances relaxation and can be an effective form of stress relief."

For the 12 residents who participate in these sessions at Karana, the program has offered a sense of achievement and even reignited confidence in some.

"Several residents with an initial resistance and limiting belief around their creativity, have begin to express their personality, and their unique artistic flair has emerged with a new found confidence," said Kaity.

"There is a sense of encouragement and curiosity as residents share their imaginative and unique way of thinking.

"Residents who were once isolated and withdrawn have become eager to participate. The program promotes social inclusion and it has been wonderful to see new friends​hips blossom."

As at Karana, staff have seen the numerous benefits of art when it comes to the wellbeing of our residents. As verbal and cognitive abilities often decline with our residents, other forms of communication are important to nurture, and art can serve as this tool, helping residents to feel understood and enabling them to reconnect with their own sense of identity.

Kaity concluded that "it has been a delight to see the residents' creativity emerge each week and an honor to see a part of them come to life through their art".

"I have enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them and strongly believe this program is invaluable to their wellbeing."