Unlocking Hidden Memories Through Art

By: MJHS Health System By: MJHS Health System | December 6, 2021 | Lifestyle Sponsored Post Art

How MJHS Centers for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care use art to help residents unlock hidden memories.

Visual art and literature color the world we live in. And they often have particularly special significance to people living with dementia because the arts provide a creative outlet to express emotions, engage and communicate with others, even as their condition progresses.


“At MJHS, we believe in the documented power of creative art therapy to help patients living with dementia. By using art and other creative approaches, we can provide a safe space for residents to express their emotions and unlock memories that have been hidden due to their diagnosis,” Says Olga Barbakova, Dementia Program Coordinator.

Drawing or painting with easy-to-use implements gives patients with dementia the freedom to create and express themselves without words. It’s amazing what they can communicate with just shapes and colors. Completing a project often taps into memories, emotions, and feelings while providing a sense of accomplishment.



1.Provide a range of art supplies and let your family member choose their medium. They may enjoy painting, drawing, or modeling with clay. Choose objects that are easy to manipulate but avoid crayons or other implements that are designed for young children. Watercolors, pastels, and thick charcoal pencils work well.

2.Ask about their creation. Why did they choose the colors they used? If they draw a landscape, what does it remind them of? If not, what did they feel while they were drawing? Conversations about their composition can help individuals with dementia remain engaged and tap into connections that may have been lost along the way.


Programs such as Creative Arts Therapy are made possible thanks to the generosity of grateful families, individual donors and charitable foundations. To help fund this invaluable program, visit mjhsfoundation.org.

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