Local art fosters cognitive recollection in San Angelo Alzheimer's residents

SAN ANGELO, Texas- When treating Alzheimer’s, dementia and general memory impairment, visual stimulation is key. Colors, shapes and textures can lead to impressive cognitive recollection because these are often associated with memories and feelings from one’s past.

With this in mind, Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo intentionally chose art made by local artists when designing The Crest, its newly opened memory care assisted living community. The art selected for the community includes a wide variety of media ranging from plein air landscape oil paintings to abstract iPhone print art. Each piece depicts well-known local scenes such as the sweeping West Texas landscape, a train waiting in the depot and an iconic downtown San Angelo building.

“We are passionate about creating a vibrant and enriched experience throughout our campus,” said Quinda Feil-Duncan, executive director of Baptist Retirement Community. “We want our community to honor our West Texas heritage and lifestyle, so art is the perfect medium for this pursuit.”

Research shows that both viewing and creating art affects individuals in positive ways by inducing both psychological and physiological healing. Exercising creativity improves quality of life and nurtures overall wellbeing. Everyone has the ability to be creative – not just a select few. Additional research validates the assertion that the imaginative and creative potential of older adults can flourish in later life, and that these skills may be developed even when living with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. 

Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., conducted a national longitudinal study on quality of life and found that the arts have a positive effect on health and illness as we age.

Benefits of viewing and creating works of art include:
•    Helping individuals relax.
•    Providing a sense of control.
•    Reducing depression and anxiety.
•    Assisting in socialization.
•    Encouraging playfulness and a sense of humor.
•    Improving cognition.
•    Offering sensory stimulation.
•    Fostering a stronger sense of identity.
•    Increasing self-esteem.
•    Nurturing spirituality.
•    Reducing boredom.

The art at Baptist Retirement Community is available for the public to view by appointment. If you are interested in scheduling a tour to see the artwork or the Crest, please call Erin Kelly at 325-481-7510 or email erin.kelly@buckner.org. To read the full story and see samples of the artwork, visit the article featured in the Standard-Times.

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