Senelick’s article on Creative Ageing: The Emergence of Artistic Talents talks about how individuals can engage with and learn a new skill even when their brain is deteriorating.
Key points from Senelick’s article:
- Creative arts can bypass “verbal pathways” and access other pathways that become available for communication
- Dementia only involves the the “artistic” parietal and occipital lobes later in the disease
- People with dementia can learn new musical and visual abilities as dementia progresses
This connecting beyond words got me thinking about how at times when i have felt overwhelmed with feelings and sort of stuck because of those feelings that when i engage with the physicality of a craft or art that it can calm and almost restore me. I come to make sense of things – sometimes the piece i create stands alone -i don’t need words. Other times the process and the piece enable me to engage with ideas and words in a way that I might never have come to if I had simply sat at a page and tried to craft words around the situation i found myself in.
So much of daily life focuses on the written and spoken word – whether it is a tweet or a report. There is sometimes great pressure to pull thoughts together and to make sense of a situation or to shape what things might look like using text. Training and education of people who work with people with dementia focusses on competency based evidence – portfolios of work which describe or show how we understand certain concepts. Would work places (dementia and otherwise) be more interesting if we had a mixed model of engagement – integrating visual and text not just for the visual to illustrate text but for the visual to allow other stories to be told to spark ideas.I think it is great that people with dementia can find ways to learn new skills which in some way facilitate a way through unchartered territory. Hopefully it makes the journey less terrifying and life itself more enjoyable. For me life now – without dementia – i value the ability to access different parts of the brain to express and engage with moments.