CHICAGO - September is World Alzheimer's Month. It's a time to shine a light on the diagnosis and challenge the stigma that is associated with the disease.
Now, a suburban care facility is helping those diagnosed with dementia tap into all of their potential and proving a picture is worth more than a thousand words.
Residents at Terra Vista of Oakbrook Terrace participate in art classes tailored to their skill levels. The colorful pieces adorn the walls as you enter the building. They represent all the seasons and all of the residents.
Mary Kay Martire's father, Darold, is a retired veterinarian. He participates in the program.
"As his dementia's progressed, he's really lost most of his ability to speak, but you know he's really a smart guy and there's still a lot going on up there," said Martire.
Her father has always been very skilled with his hands. At Terra Vista, he's able to tap into those skills to create colorful memories.
"All the these engagements and activity are to help prolong the progression of the disease.," said Natalie McFarland, the Executive Director of Terra Vista Memory Care and Assisted Living Community. "It can benefit even those residents who can no longer verbally articulate. They can still self-express through the process of creating the art."
Sue Stephens' mother, Lorraine, has lived at Terra Vista for over a year. She suffers from macular degeneration, but still has been able to participate.
"We're able to take those art pieces home with us and enjoy them ourselves, which is just a thrill because that's a part of my mom that I have in my home in her later years in life," said Stephens. "These are people that lived a full life and they're still with us and they still have something to contribute."
The community hosted two art auctions and the proceeds benefited Alzheimer’s research and other charities. For more information: https://www.terravista.org