Submitted by Wendy Morris, Dementia Services Program Manager, Lutheran Community Services.
Art is expression, and now people living with dementia in Pierce County can express themselves through art.
Openings Minds through Art (OMA) is a new service to our community from Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Northwest. The art classes for people with dementia are made possible by a federal grant from the Administration for Community Living. Scripps Gerontology recently certified LCS Northwest as an OMA provider and Laurie Arndt as our local art instructor.
“It’s exciting to facilitate a way for people with dementia to communicate through art,” Arndt said. “Participants don’t need specific skills other than a willingness to try to be creative.”
OMA was founded in 2007 by Dr. Elizabeth “Like” Lokon at the Scripps Gerontology Center, an Ohio Center of Excellence at Miami University. Pierce County is a trailblazer, as our current art students are the first to take virtual OMA classes during the pandemic.
OMA is a series of six weekly classes, held via Zoom, that include instruction and creative time. Prior to the session, supplies are safely dropped off on participants’ porches. Classes have four to five artists who are assisted by their care partners. Projects range from collages and paintings to tie-dyes. People with dementia are trained to rely on imagination instead of memory and focus on remaining strengths instead of lost skills.
At the first OMA class here, one participant said she was “frustrated by her brain not working correctly.” By the end of class, she said creating art was “very nice and fun.” It was clear she felt joy through her art.
Each series of OMA classes will have new participants. Filling classes shouldn’t be a problem, as an estimated 12,000 people in Pierce County live with dementia. At the end of a series, students will present a virtual art show. When the pandemic ends, OMA classes and art shows will be held in person.
OMA is part of LCS Northwest’s Dementia Friendly Pierce County initiative. The initiative includes Dementia Friends, a one-hour information session for anyone who wants to learn more about understanding and helping people with dementia.For more information on OMA, Dementia Friends and Dementia Friendly Pierce County, please contact us at email@example.com, or call LCS Northwest at 253-272-5433