Art Therapy for Dementia

Two seniors painting on canvas using easel

Are you looking for a way to help your loved one with dementia express themselves? Believe it or not, the answer you’re looking for might be waiting for you at the craft store. Art therapy for dementia can provide an outlet for people who need it the most, and it can also provide other mental and physical health benefits.

Art Therapy for Dementia

If you’ve ever had a loved one with dementia, you know that one of the most frustrating aspects of the disease can be the way it affects communication. Many individuals with dementia struggle to express themselves effectively, making them feel isolated and irritable. Some caretakers have found relief for their loved ones by exploring different communication and expression methods through art therapy, or the practice of using art to process and express feelings and emotion. Art therapy can help you find new ways to connect with your loved one, and also help your loved one stay connected to the world.

Art Therapy Improves Cognition and Communication

Because difficulty with written and spoken words are common for those with dementia, art therapy can provide a needed non-verbal opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, and communication. Art therapy can help those with dementia connect to old memories, and express feelings and ideas they are otherwise unable to articulate. Art therapy can also provide social stimulation by allowing seniors to interact with caretakers and each other in a creative way.

Art Therapy Provides a Sense of Accomplishment

Having a source of pride in your life is a great way to give your confidence a boost and improve your mental health. Art therapy is an excellent way to provide dignity to people with dementia, because it encourages creativity in a “no-lose” scenario. Art therapy can help seniors reconnect to beloved arts and crafts hobbies in a new way, or even learn a new skill they can share with others. Seniors who participate in art therapy often show immediate improvements in their overall self-esteem.

Everybody Can Participate in Art Therapy

You may wonder how your senior loved one can participate in art therapy at their current ability level. It’s important to remember that the point of art therapy is to allow a senior to express themselves in whatever way that works for them. You can use any art supplies or methods that help them do this. For example, seniors with dementia often enjoy expressing themselves with paint-by-numbers or brightly-colored modeling clay.

Art Therapy Can Provide Moments of Joyful Connection

Sometimes it can be a little challenging to find ways to make the moments we spend with our loved ones the best they can be, especially when dementia is a part of their lives. However, the best part of art therapy is that fun and connection are the ultimate goals. Making art with a senior loved one can spark moments of laughter and connection in a way other treatments may not provide. Best of all, the art you create will become a memento you treasure for years.


Are you ready to try art therapy for dementia? Check out the American Art Therapy Association for more resources and information.

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