“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” -Thomas Merton
Whatever your creative outlets are — music, painting, photography, drawing, or even writing, to name a few — I hope you get to enjoy them frequently. There’s nothing like engaging your imagination and creativity, although I have to admit that I speak of this only from my own anecdotal experience, not from any scientific knowledge that I have. That’s part of why each weekend I give you a song to listen to; today I give you Josh Harty’s unique Roots/Americana composition,
But this weekend, I’d like to share with you something I just learned about recently: the power of embracing the creative arts to help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Like many of you, I have older relatives that I’ve watched — some slowly, some quickly — lose their short-term and eventually their long-term memories due to Alzheimer’s and dementia. While it’s true that Alzheimer’s is almost never hereditary (unless you have a certain gene mutation for early-onset Alzheimer’s), it’s something that will affect one-in-eight older Americans, and is actually the #6 cause of death in the United States.
But for me — as a young, healthy person — the fear of losing my mind, of losing the thoughts that make up my own self-identity, that’s the most horrifying part. And it turns out that not only can the creative arts help those afflicted Alzheimer’s remember better, there’s a wonderful documentary film out there about it.
Hilda Gorenstein, an accomplished painter who painted under the name Hilgos, began suffering from Alzheimer’s later in life, back in the early 1990s. Her daughter, visiting her in a nursing home, asked her mother if she wouldn’t like to paint again. The simple response, “I remember better when I paint,” gave rise to what’s eventually become a documentary film about the intersection of science, medicine, and the arts in combatting Alzheimer’s. From the official synopsis, the film
is the first international documentary about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies on people with Alzheimer’s and how these approaches can change the way society looks at the disease.
I’m a big fan of any therapy that can improve and enhance people’s quality-of-life, and I’m an even bigger fan when science and medicine back that up.
So far, the film has been shown on public television stations in ten different states across the country, as well as in Canada and on national stations in Europe and Asia, as far as I know. But, unfortunately, it hasn’t made it to Oregon, the state where “Hilgos” herself is from! I think the work the Hilgos Foundation is doing to help make this film and the information and stories therein available, for free, to the general public is wonderful, and I’ve nominated I Remember Better When I Paint for a Shorty Award.
You can watch the official trailer below.
Time will eventually claim all of us, and return us to the Universe we came from. But I’m so happy to have learned about this type of positive therapy for people afflicted with this horrible disease, and for this film which highlights the good we can do for those who are still here. Hope you have a great and uplifting time this weekend, and I’ll see you all back here again next week to share in the wonders and joys of the Universe!