Coloring as Art Therapy for Alzheimer's and Other Dementias


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Adult coloring books have become so popular that even Crayola is offering
Adult Coloring Kits. It's not surprising that this activity has become so popular because coloring is an affordable and fun activity you can do just about anywhere that promotes relaxation, as well as increasing focus, vision & fine motor skills.  This is especially beneficial to those suffering with Alzheimer's or other dementias.  According to the Society for the Arts in Dementia Care, "A wealth of research has demonstrated that participation in creative activities promotes health and well-being by stimulating curiosity and self-evaluation, by encouraging individuals to express themselves in meaningful ways and by affirming their dignity and self-worth."

While coloring is a great activity for all ages, when considering coloring as an activity for your senior loved one or someone suffering with Alzheimer's or other dementias, it's important to present the activity in an appropriate manner. 

  • Colored pencils should be used instead of crayons or markers.  Crayons may be perceived as childish and insulting, and colored markers can be messy or bleed through the pages causing frustration or disappointment. 
  • Care should also be taken in selecting the coloring book, because a coloring book for children could belittle a senior. 
  • The theme of the coloring book should be thoughtfully considered.  Since adult coloring books have become increasingly popular, there are many with very busy, abstract or surreal images that may be agitating to an already confused mind.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, "Art projects can create a sense of accomplishment and purpose. They can provide the person with dementia — as well as caregivers — an opportunity for self-expression."  They also suggest when planning an art activity for someone with middle-to-late-stage Alzheimer's to keep these tips in mind:

  • Build conversation into the project. Provide encouragement, discuss what the person is creating and reminisce with him or her. 
  • Help the person begin the activity. If the person is painting, you may need to start the brush movement. Most other projects should only require basic instruction and assistance. 
  • Use safe materials. Avoid toxic substances and sharp tools. 
  • Allow plenty of time, keeping in mind that the person doesn't have to finish the project in one sitting. 

You can get started coloring today with this free Christmas cardinal coloring page.  The Alzheimer's Store also offers coloring books for seniors with reminiscent topics, which makes for hours of fun and brings back special memories.  Amazon.com also offers appropriate coloring books featuring State Birds & Flowers, Famous Trains, and Seasonal Nature and Animals.


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