Do Some Coloring

When I worked in the activity department at various senior centers/residences, people touring the facility always were, well, concerned that we often had pictures that had been colored by people with memory loss hung on the walls, or, even worse, they witnessed older adults coloring. They would voice concerns that it was too juvenile and demeaning for the residents, uncreative on the part of the staff, and a million other things. Honestly, I felt the same way at first.  However,  I quickly saw how much the residents enjoyed it. 

People with memory loss have many choices simply taken from them, so whenever you can offer them chance to make any decision, you’re already off to a good start.  We were careful to pick pictures and patterns for them to choose from that weren’t juvenile, and from there the choice was theirs.  What to pick, what medium to use (crayons, markers, pencils, etc), and what colors to put where-they got to pick it all.  I can also say from personal experience, coloring is oddly meditative.  It’s really easy to lose track of time and when you’re engrossed in a good picture, something I observed in the older adults I worked with as well. 

Even if they needed some help getting started, once you helped them put marker (or whatever) to paper and got a little color on the page, even those in the later stages of the disease could spend hours coloring.  Sure, many people ended up coloring a whole picture, or even the whole page, one solid color, but the goal here is to enjoy the process, not worry about the final product.  Besides, art is subjective, right?

Here are some websites to get you started.  Each has designs you can print off for free.  However, this is just a teeny tiny fraction of what is available online. 

National — very realistic and beautiful animals

Clip Arts and –a wide variety of topics available

Grandma’s  –very detailed scenes of daily life from the late 1800s to the 1940s.  –abstract patterns thought to have a meditative quality when completing

You can also just type “adult coloring pages” into any image search engine.  ***Warning, if you choose to do this, make sure the safe search is on!  Otherwise, you might get a few naked-lady coloring pages included in the mix.***  

Of course, you can always buy coloring books as well, such as this one from Mary Engelbreit,  which is super cute.

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