A Day in the Life: When art becomes magic in action

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Carol Silver-Elliott
Carol Silver-Elliott
Watching a long-time Alzheimer's sufferer create a beautiful piece of artwork or even play a musical instrument is like watching “magic in action,” says Carol Silver-Elliott, president and CEO of Cedar Village, a continuing care retirement community in Mason, OH.

She should know. In her time at Cedar Village, she has seen the facility's dementia residents make great strides in “creative expressions” through art, music and creative writing. The CCRC has partnered with nearby Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center for its Opening Minds through Art program, which brings teams of practicing artists into the facility to work with residents.

Thanks to local philanthropists, Cedar Village recently expanded its programs with Scripps, which will allow researchers to observe the clinical outcomes of engaging dementia residents in more intensive art therapy. Students working with Scripps are developing a tool that will allow them to measure progress.

The art allows dementia residents to have the tools to express themselves, make choices, and assert control, Silver-Elliott says.

“The art program has engendered a lot of interest. It's another way for our staff to communicate with our residents. When we have more tools at our disposal — to help the resident with the process they're going through — the better we feel about it.”