Me: “So we arrive to one of the most important parts of our art experience… what would you like to title your work?”
Friend #3: *giggles* “I’m not so sure…”
Me: “Maybe consider what you think about when you think of robins?”
Friend #3: “Let’s call it, ‘Maybe a Robin'”
The last two weeks have been so fulfilling as far as fieldwork experiences go! The transition from all patient care to patient care with several days of creative occupations has proven to be so meaningful. Patients I had the opportunity to assist in becoming more independent in activities of daily living are now some of my willing victims and I feel like I am getting to know them on a different level!
The gentleman I refer to as ‘Friend #3’ in today’s dialogue is also the artist responsible for the painting above. He is a small town Iowan and is so fun loving–he makes light of everything and has such a silly sense of humor. I loved working with him in therapy and was so happy when he agreed to paint with me! He was previously a truck driver and told me he had not painted since high school, but I could not help but be so impressed with his work! I was impressed, in part, due to the progression of his painting from last week to now… Last week’s painting started as a lush green scene in the mountains based on a picture book about the Appalachian Mountains. Sometime while painting, the picture got turned and upon realizing his leaf and flower looked more like an ‘Indian man’ than a leaf, he decided to name the work ‘Chief’ and painted a tree next to the leaf/man and also painted his ’42 Ford Sedan on the opposite end of the paper. To explain such a change in his work, I believe it has a lot to do with the environments in which we painted in addition to my patient’s level of interest in the subject matter. The first time we painted, it was in a crowded office space in the therapy area as the other therapists requested he be close for therapy as he had a doctor’s appt that morning. The room was relatively distracting and my patient liked the green scene we selected in the picture book, but didn’t seem completely sold on it. This last session, we were in a sun room listening to The Highway Men and I had several Birds & Bloom magazines available to flip through–what a world of difference this made! My patient previously enjoyed bird watching, so painting a robin was more his style, and being in a bright, welcoming environment also played a factor. The environments in which we perform treatment sessions with patients are very important to consider when leading therapy sessions as they do contribute to patients’ performance.
Other neat aspects of this week’s Memories in the Making painting sessions included my first group session, a session with both a patient and her daughter present and a session with a patient from my therapy caseload who had no previous experience with art and was fairly hesitant to give it a shot.
My first group session included a long term resident who enjoys painting, a long term resident who was previously on my caseload and expressed interest in watching others paint, and a patient on caseload who wasn’t sure if she wanted to paint, but thought it may be interesting to watch. It was so sweet seeing the interactions among the group members and to watch as the observers were very supportive and encouraging to the group member who was painting. One of the observers spends a lot of time in his room, but is just THE sweetest man, so I was so glad he could come and act as an ‘encourager’ and join in on some social interaction with his neighbors.
Memories in the Making is said to not only be a great tool for increasing social participation within groups, but also an aid for communication between patients and family members. I have had the pleasure of leading two sessions with a mother and daughter and it has been so nice to talk as a group about the patient’s formerly enjoyed activities, continued interests and fond memories. Additionally, I ran into another patient’s daughter in the hallway, and she told me how excited her mom was to paint with me—this warmed my heart because her mom is one of my patients who is a bit more hesitant to paint, so to hear she is enjoying her time with me was so affirming!
My final patient is one who has had quite a time lately–I’ve watched her mood dampen in the last couple of weeks and have wondered what might help her to smile again. She is a very particular lady and doesn’t necessarily seem like the type of person to try something unless she knew ahead of time that she would prove successful in her attempts. This patient painted a floral centerpiece while we listened to classical music and talked about living in the Omaha area. By the end of the session, she was all smiles and admitted to me that she did not think she was going to come paint with me initially, but that she was glad she did. She titled her work, ‘First Venture,’ and from the sounds of things, it won’t be her last venture with painting 🙂
Being provided with the opportunity to lead creative therapy sessions with older adults has me feeling so blessed and so excited to be on the path to becoming an occupational therapist! Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than spending an afternoon painting, listening to music and reminiscing. 🙂
Have a blessed week ♥,
P.S. This past Thursday, I was able to assist residents with painting ceramic butterflies in memory of some of the millions of children lost during the Holocaust. The activities employees read the names and stories of the children and how they died… it was really moving but also very sad. I think it’s great that my facility is participating in such a program in order to help remember the children who lost their lives during the Holocaust while providing residents with an opportunity to contribute to the program as well.