Posts Tagged 'alzheimer’s disease'

Beachy Keen

Today is Grandparent’s Day, a day for everyone to recognize the strength, wisdom, and guidance older people can offer. At the DMA, we take every opportunity to celebrate our seniors and learn from their experiences.

During a recent Meaningful Moments program, participants Mel and Barbara shared their lifelong love of seashells with the rest of the group. Mel and Barbara have been collecting seashells for more than 40 years and brought some of their own specimens to the Museum to help us explore seashells in works of art.

Participants shared their memories of trips to the beach and enjoyed some hands-on time with Mel and Barbara’s seashell collection. Mel even surprised us when he blew his conch shell like a horn, filling the gallery with the sound of a bellowing trumpet. According to Mel and Barbara, this type of natural instrument has been used since Neolithic times!

As participants continue their lifelong learning at the Museum, we are so fortunate to share in their vast knowledge and rich experiences.

Emily Wiskera is Manager of Access Programs at the DMA.

Our Harp’s Delight

July’s Meaningful Moments program was all about music as participants explored The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust. While closely examining the 18th century French painting, participants shared their memories related to learning to play a musical instrument.

We were joined in the galleries by harpist Cindy Horstman, who shared her own experiences of learning the harp in college and becoming a professional musician. Cindy brought The Harp Lesson to life as she plucked away at her harp, filling the gallery with music.

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Cindy began by playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach, a piece of music that was popular during the time The Harp Lesson was painted. She also wowed us with a wide-ranging assortment of music including “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles and “Summertime” by George Gershwin, all played from memory!

At the end of the program, participants were already asking when Cindy could return again.

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Friday Photos: Blast from the Past!

We have had a fun month full of memories this January. During our Meaningful Moments program for memory care groups, we have focused on objects in the DMA’s Decorative Arts gallery. From the Silver Streak iron (model no. 1038) to the Nocturne radio (Model 1186), objects in this gallery have sparked memories from several participants. Close looking, conversations, laughing, and even some toe-tapping while singing along to Bing Crosby filled the Decorative Arts gallery. Following our time looking at art, participants created their own decorative work of art – a colorful wreath to take back and hang on their doors.

 

Vacuum cleaner (model 30), Lurelle Guild, 1937

Vacuum cleaner (model 30), Lurelle Guild, Electrolux Corporation, 1937, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of John T. Howell and Thomas J. Howell in memory of their father John P. Howell

One object in particular, the Electrolux vacuum cleaner, inspired the most sharing. We got a kick out of one participant who shared a story about her mother’s Electrolux vacuum cleaner. We were lucky to snag a quick video.

Participant: “Father traveled a lot for business. He brought mother home an Electrolux, and he had her name printed on it.”
Danielle: “Was your mother very happy when she received that as a present, to see her name on the vacuum cleaner?”
Participant: “Well, her comment was, ‘You brought me something to work with!’”

What a fun story! And just the kind of memories we hope are shared during Meaningful Moments.

For more information, or to register a memory care facility group, call 214-922-1251 or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments program reinforces my belief in love and in the kindness of humanity.

If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing. In the studio, there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork. Many of the participants get together outside of the program, for lunches or support groups. I have received gardening tips and holiday cards from individuals in the program, and I have even visited the woodworking shop of a participant to learn how to use a lathe. The group is social and very welcoming to newcomers, but is also a supportive bunch of familiar faces.

Viewing and talking about works of art can unearth past memories, especially those still accessible to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I have witnessed this many times during Meaningful Moments. From a Native American cradle sparking recollections about vacationing with young children, an exhibition with a beautiful wedding gown triggering detailed stories about participants’ wedding days, impressionist works reminding attendees of a favorite nature spot from their youth, or a print by Andy Warhol generating a lively discussion of life in the 1960s, artwork often serves as a catalyst to connect with the stories from the past and with loved ones in the present. During our gallery conversations, spouses (even those married more than fifty years) occasionally learn new things about their loved one’s past.

Crucial to the Meaningful Moments program, socialization and simulation play a key role and have been proven to help improve mood and behavior, as well as dramatically enhance quality of life. The social interaction and exploration of works in the collection are as gratifying to the spouse or family member as it is to the attendees with Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen care partners lean on one another for support and bond over shared experiences. One woman who used to bring her husband to the program still occasionally attends, even though her husband passed away two years ago. A couple who has attended the program since the beginning even schedules their doctor’s appointments and vacations around the program dates. A wife who brings her husband has told me that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with him and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum.

Since the program began four years ago, two of my favorite people in my life have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I know how heartbreaking it can feel for this disease to affect someone you love, let alone how scary it must feel for the person diagnosed. The Meaningful Moments program is one of the best parts of my job and means so much to me as an educator—it is an honor to be welcomed into the circle of this small group of people and to become part of their experience as they journey through life navigating such a devastating disease.

Getting to know program attendees and seeing how much the couples genuinely and patiently care for one another, I have witnessed true love in action. To watch a husband gingerly fit a headpiece he designed around his wife’s head, to catch couples married fifty years holding hands in front of a Jackson Pollock, to be in the studio immersed in jewelry-making with attendees while listening to Duke Ellington and suddenly looking up to see an impromptu slow dance take place by one of the couples in the program are just a few of the many truly memorable experiences for me, and ones that I will always cherish.

To learn more about the DMA’s Meaningful Moments program, or for information on how to schedule a group from assisted-living facilities specializing in memory care, visit the Museum’s website or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Friday Photos: Zen Gardening

We have a great time each month with participants of Meaningful Moments, the DMA’s program for visitors with early stage dementia and their care partners. During last week’s program, Susan Morgan, Senior Manager of Therapeutic Horticulture at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, joined us to teach about the art of Zen gardens.

Our program began in the Asian art galleries discussing lotus flowers in various works of art. We ended in the European galleries talking about the influence of Eastern art on artists like Claude Monet. Back in the studio, everyone had the opportunity to create their own custom Zen garden while Susan told us about the symbolism of the nature elements and the ways to care for Japanese rock gardens. It was a relaxing experience for all!

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

Dallas Museum of Art Points of Access

Through Access Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art, visitors of all ages with special needs and their families can experience the Museum and spend time together. For instance, we host Art Beyond Sight programs in October that celebrate visual awareness, and four times a year we have Autism Awareness Family Celebrations.

Meaningful Moments is a monthly program at the DMA designed for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and a care partner–a devoted wife bringing her husband, a loving daughter attending with her mother, or an admiring husband bringing his wife, like John Rath, who brings his wife, Sue.

John and Sue attend the DMA program every month, including last week’s Storytelling in Art Meaningful Moments event. At every visit, they enjoy the gallery discussion and the opportunity to reminisce and share stories about their lives. Sue had a career with Susan Crane Packaging, where she designed wrapping paper that was sold at many stores, including Neiman Marcus, and John worked for thirty-seven years at Texas Instruments. Sue collects pins (always wearing a different one when she visits the Museum) and loves taking care of her plants in a back porch greenroom that her handyman husband John built just for her.

When the program moves to the studio for art-making, Sue’s artistic abilities shine as she is usually one of the last to finish her work of art. Many couples create art together during the studio time, but John prefers to admire Sue’s creations while providing support and encouragement. Clearly best friends, John and Sue have a love for one another that many dream about having.

I have been lucky to get to know this wonderful couple during Meaningful Moments throughout the year, and here is a bit more insight into the lives of John and Sue:

John and Sue, what three words would you use to describe one another?
Sue is loving, considerate, and creative. John is kind, friendly, and multitalented.

John, you and Sue have known each other for a long time (since childhood!). Will you share some favorite moments that you have had together over the years?
Riding our bicycles to Confirmation class at church together, our first date (a Boy Scout Christmas party), our wedding day, and honeymoon. Living in a number of different states and countries, some of them more than once, when I was traveling on military/government contracts for Texas Instruments. The birth of our daughter and son and their development through the years; both were achievers and kept us extremely busy with their activities. Everywhere we have lived, we’ve enjoyed the people we met and have taken advantage of the–if I may borrow a phrase–meaningful moments that were available.

What types of things do the two of you enjoy doing together?
We enjoy the Meaningful Moments program at the Dallas Museum of Art; spending quality time with family, extended family, and friends; camping, fishing, and most outdoor activities; playing games (cards, dominoes, Yahtzee, etc., especially with grandchildren); and working on creative projects together.

Why do you attend the Meaningful Moments program?
The Meaningful Moments program is an excellent extension of the informational and learning opportunities we have always enjoyed and try to take advantage of when possible. We always look forward to the monthly programs.

Amanda Blake is Manager of Family Experiences and Access Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene: Meaningful Moments

Meaningful Moments is our monthly Access Program for individuals with early stage dementia and their family members or caregivers. Here are some images from last month’s program. For information on the May 17th Meaningful Moment and other Access Programs at the DMA visit our Access Programs page on the DMA’s web site.


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