Spice Watercolor Painting
Who doesn't love the smell of fragrant spices in the kitchen? Maybe you can't bring your residents to the kitchen, but you can bring the spices to them! This activity engages the senses and also makes for a fun art project!
For this activity you will need: paintbrushes, paint pallets, painting paper (or some other kind of thicker paper), and some spice paints!
Below are some examples of spices, extracts, or other kitchen staples you could use:
Liquid from a jar of beets
Liquid from a jar of pickles
Peppermint extract with green food coloring
Lemon extract with yellow food coloring
Vanilla extract with blue food coloring
Anything else that has a vibrant staining color
Here is an example of a resident's self portrait made with cinnamon and turmeric:
Additionally, with any dry spice paints I recommend you make the paints ahead of time. If they sit out a little before they look and smell more vibrant.
Something I recommend to residents who don't like to freehand paint is to use a stencil. This one has beautiful designs that are age appropriate.
Art therapy has scientific evidence for being beneficial in many ways for individuals with dementia. It can help residents cope with emotions that might come from receiving a diagnosis or symptoms of the disease. Creating art can provide a physical outlet to display their emotions (1). Painting is an effective intervention for increasing happiness (2). Certain techniques might be difficult for residents as the disease progresses, but different methods can be adapted often until late stages of progression (3). Additionally, group art therapy can provide social interaction which can help improve communication and calmness (4). Try not to doubt your residents; give them opportunities to try something new.
Scientific Research on Benefits of Art Therapy:
Hannemann, B. T. (2006). Creativity with dementia patients. Can creativity and art stimulate dementia patients positively? Gerontology, 52(1), 59–65. https://doi.org/10.1159/000089827
Barfarazi, H., Pourghaznein, T., Mohajer, S., Mazlom, S. & Asgharinekah, S. (2018). Evaluating the Effect of Painting Therapy on Happiness in the Elderly. Evidence Based Care, 8(3), 17–26. https://doi.org/10.22038/ebcj.2018.31572.1785
Tucknott-Cohen, T., & Ehresman, C. (2016). Art Therapy for an Individual With Late Stage Dementia: A Clinical Case Description. Art Therapy, 33(1), 41–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2016.1127710
Rusted, J., Sheppard, L., & Waller, D. (2006). A Multi-centre Randomized Control Group Trial on the Use of Art Therapy for Older People with Dementia. Group Analysis, 39(4), 517–536. https://doi.org/10.1177/0533316406071447