“Minds on Art” – Week 3

Our “Minds on Art” group in Detroit is a microcosm of America’s dementia population.

Most of the people in the program with some form of dementia are women, which is no surprise. Women are more susceptible than men to being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The canoe that became a candle holder.

The canoe that became a candle holder.

The majority of caregivers in our group are women, which also lines up with the statistics. Men make up a relatively small portion of dementia caregivers, although their numbers are growing.

The connections between the care recipients and their caregivers in our group are varied. The largest group seems to be daughters taking care of mothers. There are spouses taking care of a husband or wife. And there a couple of unique categories. I seem to be the only son in the group. There is another family consisting of grandmother, daughter and grand-daughter.

Only about a quarter of those attending “Minds on Art” are African American, which is disappointing for this reason: Studies have shown that the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease among older African Americans may be two to three times greater than in the non-Hispanic white population and that they differ from the non-Hispanic white population in risk factors and disease manifestation.

"Watson and the Shark," by Copley.

“Watson and the Shark,” by Copley.

What we all have in common is a willingness to engage with the program and each other.

The painting “Watson and the Shark” was the subject of our most recent analysis. We caregivers could not resist pointing out details in the painting, but most of the comments came from those with dementia, which, I suspect, is what the Alzheimer’s Association intended when they created “Minds on Art.”

Afterwards, back in the clay studio, our individual projects were on display, including my mother’s bowl and canoe.

I’d been puzzled from the start that my mother had sculpted a canoe. The idea was hers. Someone called out that her work looks like a candle holder. My mother immediately agreed. At her home the next day, I brought some tea candles, and she placed them inside. “These look really great,” she said.

On the other hand, my cigar holder did not – as someone had suggested – morph into a hot dog holder. Which was fine, because the hot dog idea was said in jest. At least, I think it was.



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James E. Kenyon

James is the publisher and editor of Page One Post. He was a newspaper reporter in Detroit and Norfolk, VA, before working in the corporate communications departments at a number of Michigan companies. His last stint was 18 years at Chrysler Corporation, where he handled media relations, product and marketing PR and speech writing. He retired from Chrysler in 2007. He enjoys listening to jazz, good cigars and bourbon Manhattans, often at the same time. He and his partner, Melba, live in Detroit's Rosedale Park neighborhood.