A 71-year-old islander with dementia has rediscovered her creative spark thanks to the support of her husband and a local charity's art group.
Ann Morel first experienced symptoms of dementia in 2014 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2021.
For many years, Ann has experienced difficulty with speech and headaches. While she previously loved to draw and created amazing artwork, she stopped drawing as a result of her headaches.
Throughout Ann's journey to diagnosis, her husband Frank said he had noticed “things weren’t quite right” at home and that his wife was “losing her confidence”.
Pictured: Ann joined Dementia Jersey activities this summer.
Whilst there was relief through diagnosis, Ann continued to experience anxiety about leaving the house, which further affected her confidence with speaking, answering the phone at home, and most of all, her passion for drawing.
The Memory Assessment service at Overdale recommended Dementia Jersey’s support services to Ann and Frank and the couple joined the Art Exploration group this summer.
They have since joined in with other group activities run by the charity including coffee mornings and a project called the Meeting Place, which has helped Ann build her confidence by enabling her to be in a social setting with other people with dementia and taking part in brain-stimulating activities.
Ann’s confidence has also grown since receiving speech therapy - so much so she has started to answer the home phone again and is less frightened to go out, which has been a huge relief for Frank.
Pictured: The arts exploration group is a weekly workshop held at Philadephie Church in St. Peter.
Her most enjoyable activity, however, is art. Frank said that since joining the Dementia Jersey’s Art exploration group Ann has started creating art from home again. He said he hadn’t seen Ann’s work in such a long time that he was surprised how wonderful it was after a hiatus of several years.
The group is a weekly workshop held at Philadephie Church in St. Peter led by Lucy Blackmore, a trained art therapist, with the support of volunteers.
“Each week the group focuses on a theme and volunteers bring in props and photographs to inspire and engage attendees who are provided with a range of materials to draw or paint with,” Susie Kelly, Dementia Jersey Volunteer and Activities Coordinator, said.
“Art therapy is used by caregivers and care professionals to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals living with dementia. Whilst some people lose aspects of their communication skills, art therapy allows them to express themselves in a more creative way.
“Benefits also include increased brain stimulation, which may help to slow cognitive deterioration and improve quality of life. It’s wonderful to see the concentration and enjoyment on people’s faces and the positive feedback I’ve had shows it’s a really valuable session for both carers and people with dementia.”
Pictured: Ann's robin illustration is featured on Dementia Jersey's Christmas card.
Dementia Jersey has been so impressed by Ann’s artwork that they asked her to produce an illustration for their 2021 Christmas card, which will help raise vital funding for its activities and support groups.
Ann worked on the design from home and in the art group, and the charity says it thinks it’s a beautiful picture.
Ann’s cards will be on sale at the Association of Jersey Charities Christmas Fayre today (Saturday 27 November) and in the market on Thursday 2 December.
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