Many studies indicate that as many as 20% of persons with Alzheimer’s and dementia experience greater confusion, agitation and anxiety later in the day and throughout the night. As a result, patients may feel restless, be unable to sleep, wander, and experience behavior issues – this is referred to as “sundowning.”
There are many solutions to what is often a temporary issue, such as medication, better home lighting, and more activity during the day. Senior care providers such as adult day care centers, assisted living residences and nursing homes also implement innovative solutions to help residents ease through the evening hours.
MorseLife’s Memory Care Assisted Living residence in West Palm Beach is one such provider that is providing unique ways to help its residents with dementia make the most of their lives. In the case of “sundowners,” one of its newest programs is called “Art in the Dark,” an initiative that encourages residents to express themselves through art in the evening hours.
Stephanie Frazier, Executive Director of MorseLife Housing, noted that the “Art in the Dark” initiative was similar to a concept she experienced while she was a guest at a café offering instruction in painting and wine. “For me, it was so much fun – the staff provided everything we needed like the canvas, paint brushes, step by step instruction and paint, as well as a nice glass of wine,” she said. “As developed in our Memory Care Assisted Living, we skip the wine, but we guide them in creating their own watercolors.”
Ms. Frazier noted that art instructor Jerry Oliver and the MorseLife team make things completely accessible to residents. “We place blank canvasses on the walls, provide all supplies, and gently offer suggestions and ideas, and the encouragement they need to start creating,” she said. “The results of their work have been amazing!”
“Many a night, we see our residents exploring their talents with listening to classical music well into the later evening hours, and they enjoy every minute of it!” noted Ms. Frazier. “In our residence, we are all about providing peaceful days – and nights – to our cherished seniors. The ‘Art in the Dark’ program is one more initiative that is both helping them become less restless in the evening hours, and also giving them the joy of discovering or rediscovering their artistic talents.”
Keith Myers, President/CEO for MorseLife Health System, noted that the connection between art and healing is at the forefront at MorseLife Health System. “First, we have exceptional art programs for residents in all of our settings, such as memory care, long-term care, short-term rehab, adult day care and memory care,” he said. “Even further, the art of truly noteworthy artists – paintings and sculptures – are throughout our campus and buildings, most often either commissioned or donated by generous benefactors.” Myers notes that the MorseLife boasts a “museum-quality art collection that is often visited by members of the community who do not have any other reason to be on the campus.”
“We believe that art humanizes the health care environment, and through its beauty and symbolism, we believe it spurs healing,” he said. “’Art in the Dark’ for our memory care residents is an initiative that really focuses on the ‘healing” nature of artistic expression, in this case, helping seniors with dementia with their restlessness that can cause sleeping and behavior issues.”
For more information about the “Art in the Dark” program, and other programs of Memory Care Assisted Living, call (561) 209-6107. To view the art of the MorseLife Health System campus, call MorseLife Foundation at (561) 209-6103.