A New Portrait of Dementia: Brush to Canvas

The Alzheimer’s residents at Evolve at Rye are creating new portraits of dementia.

For many who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, while their short-term memories may be fleeting, their long-term memories are still often intact. 

Evolve’s activity director Lori Wiswell believes that reaching those long-term memories is often a matter of channeling attention to target familiar images that we all hold onto during our lives. There is a palpable sense of enthusiasm bubbling from Lori: “Here at Evolve at Rye we offer a therapeutic, multi-faceted interdisciplinary approach to activities and social and leisure programming,” she explains. “Our goal is to provide specialized stimulation to create structure and support in meeting the physical, psychosocial, cognitive and spiritual needs of each resident. In this case, it’s through the imagery of art therapy.” 


Every week art therapy imagery comes to life. The artwork of the Evolve at Rye residents is on display at the community rooms for everyone to enjoy. 

“We focus on the resident’s wellness and the holistic needs, rather than the losses that the disease causes,” continues Lori. 

By focusing and building upon remaining abilities, projects such as these can build the confidence of the residents, rather than reminding them of what they may be losing.  All program components are designed to provide “failure-free” stimulation according to the cognitive ability of each resident. The intimate, homey environment offers unique and separate structure for early and later stage residents, which enables staff to individualize programming for each resident. 

“Our programming is designed to provide stimulation within each resident’s capabilities that is confidence building and success oriented,” concludes Lori.

Learn more about the “failure-free” activities at Evolve at Rye 

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Benjamin Pearce is an expert in the senior living industry and dementia-related care. He has thirty-five years of experience working with over 200 communities in 36 states encompassing over $1 billion in annual revenue. Pearce has extensive experience as a published author of several books and as a public speaker for caregivers and supervisors. His book, Senior Living Communities: Operations Management and Marketing for Assisted Living, Congregate and Continuing Care Retirement Communities is the go-to handbook for effective senior residential facilities. It has also been converted into an online classroom for the certification of assisted living administrators in several states. He is also the author of 27 eBooks on Amazon Kindle and iTunes covering industry related topics. He is a frequent contributor on senior living for publications such as Provider, Contemporary Long Term Care and Assisted Living Success. Pearce also serves as an expert witness for assisted living and skilled nursing litigation. Pearce shares his expertise as an adjunct professor for Johns Hopkins University and New York University, while teaching a variety of courses about senior living development and operations. He is also a professor at the Institute for Senior Living Education, based in Connecticut, an instructor for the Executive Director Certification Course and an instructor for EasyCEU.com, a continuing education provider. Pearce has received a number of awards including the Contemporary Long Term Care Order of Excellence, awarded to recognize outstanding operators and an elite fraternity whose members have been judged by their peers to be the nation's best.