I have been a collage artist 35 yrs and developed a program called Return To Innocence for the Sarasota, Fl. Alzheimer's Ass. in 2000. Using images cut from magazines the individual with dementia is able to communicate with the collage companion. The Individual selects the image, the companion cuts it, the individual choses the location on a previously chosen colored poster paper and the companion glues it. They discuss the imagery and what it means to both their lives. This has been extremely successful in even those in the nonverbal later stages. In these instances the companion does most of the talking and solicits yes or no responses. I call this the "collage communication technique" and am in the process of writting a manual on the mind, body, spirit benefits of each step. Most persons with Alz. begin to improve dramatically when this technique is used regularly which has led me to believe this is an effective therapy for dementia, especially Alzheimer's. After much research on brain function I have theorized that new neuronal connections (neuroplasticity) are formed through the emotional connections to the imagery and the verbal stimulation during the communication with the companion. Each image represents an experiential association in the life of the individual as well as the companion.
The interchange of these representational imagery causes memories and experiences to be stirred and relived creating new experiences. This is not usually possible during the later stages. Separating the image from the whole scene in the magazine aids in focusing and rearranging of these images in the collage format creates a new picture formed from the imagery associations to the individuals life. The stimulating effect on the brain and neuronal firing is incredible. Watching people who have withdrawn from their environment slowly begin to come alive and interact with others is wonderful. I'm interested in contacting anyone who is interested in knowing more about this.
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