It’s not the first thing you think of when you see the images of Elvis Presley, The Beatles or Marilyn Monroe but the worldwide fame of these bygone stars will be used to help older adults living with dementia to reminisce about their past.
Colourful portraits of the stars will be hung in the corridors of Masonic Homes’ Tiwi Gardens Lodge, Darwin next week, brightening up the dementia ward while providing the residents with mental stimulation.
The paintings- which also include depictions of James Dean, Julie Andrews, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra- were created by a group of talented year 11 students from Darwin High School as part of a reminiscence art project.
The facility’s lifestyle coordinator, Vanessa Joyce, initiated the project and said that by participating, the students also got to develop a deeper appreciation of the era that their grandparents and parents grew up in.
“With dementia the short-term memory goes but often, the long-term memory is still there,” said Ms Joyce. “For our residents, it’s a big thing so we are trying to bring back those memories with art.
“The walls were also really bare. We wanted to brighten them up, trigger reminiscence memories and provide stimulation for the residents in the dementia wing.”
Masonic Homes’ Northern Territory regional manager, Malcolm Johnstone, described how the program’s aims were two-fold.
“Firstly it was to develop a relationship between the kids at the school and older people,” Mr Johnstone said.
“A lot of children here don’t have grandparents in Darwin. Some do but many don’t. It’s a very young person’s town so we’ve created that relationship between our residents and the high school.
“But it was to also develop something for our residents to focus their memories on, or to provide them with a memory after viewing the artworks.
“We believe it will provide our residents with a positive feeling. We can only try it and see.”
The students, who have been working on the project since March this year, handed over the paintings yesterday during a special ceremony with the school’s principal and other teachers.
“It’s inspiring to see young students with so much artistic talent,” he said.
“Our residents are really going to enjoy having these bright and memorable portraits around, to inspire some positive and happy memories.”