Daniel P. - From Woods to Watercolors
Lester E. Potts, Jr., my father, was an oak of a man. A rural Alabama saw miller, Dad embodied hard work, dependability, humility and and capable leadership.
At age 72 Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and had a rapid downhill course. He became depressed and withdrawn, losing his pride in being a very capable man.
Then he became a client at Caring Days, a dementia daycare center which espouses affirming, person-centered care and expressive arts therapies. Lester, who had never drawn or painted previously, began paiting beautiful watercolors to our amazement. Images came out of an earlier time...pictures of home and family. And with the new found expression came forth Dad's spirit, soaring above the pain, and lifting the spirits of those around him, as well. His mood, behavior, pride, and communication abilities improved, and we were able to be in mutually upbuilding relationship with him again.
Lester was still there, making himself known to the world again.
Our experience with Dad taught us never to give up on those with dementia/Alzheimer's disease. Their personhood still persists despite the affliction, and can be reached through creatvity, reminiscence, and by just being attentive and present with them in the moment. We can share experiences with our loved ones by meeting them in their world, learning their stories, and loving them as they are.