Memories in the Making

Organization Associated with Program
The Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati
644 Linn St. Suite 1026
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203

Memories in the Making® is an art program for persons in the early and middle stages of memory loss. It offers individuals a means of self-expression through painting and drawing under the guidance of an artist facilitator. A person with diminished verbal and organizational skills can communicate by recreating a memory on paper or canvas using pencil or paint. Sessions are facilitated by an artist and assistant who have both an extensive art background and a knowledge of memory loss. Men and women from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other neurocognitive disorders are eligible for this free program. Previous painting and drawing experience is not necessary.

At two locations, in conjunction with Memories in the Making®, the Alzheimer's Association offers a Time for Caregiver's Workshop, a separate program for family members of the diagnosed individuals who participate in the Memories in the Making® sessions. The goal of Time for Caregivers is to provide stress relief to family caregivers through supportive interventions, education, activities, and time away from caregiving responsibilities. Caregivers have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities focused on health and wellness, personal enrichment, supportive fellowship, and creative expression. Caregivers may also choose to spend the time engaging in their own pursuits, such as visiting friends, running errands, or having quiet time alone. A social worker facilitates the caregiver sessions, and other expert facilitators are included periodically to present special programming such as meditation, yoga, or other forms of enrichment.

Program History

In 1986, Selly Jenny, an artist, Alzheimer’s Association board member, and caregiver whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease, explored the use of an art program to identify how much people living with memory loss could reveal about themselves through the medium of art. Most participants had never painted before, yet the response was uniformly positive, revealing, and reaffirming. The Memories in the Making® Art Program was thus born and has grown into a calendar, a training manual, an art exhibit, and more—expanding both nationally and internationally. 

Program Assessments and Evaluations

This program is evaluated through the use of observation, interviews, and attendance numbers. Observations are held at the host site, site visits are conducted by the program coordinator, and feedback surveys are collected from the participants.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Consider implementing a similar program in your center, as it provides a pleasurable opportunity for the older adult artist to be involved in a creative process when so much is changing for them.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop
Arts Discipline: Visual Arts
Interdisciplinary Connections: Education, Volunteerism
Target Audience: Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Frail Older Adults, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Cognitive Disabilities
Program Setting: Adult Day Care, Arts Organization, Assisted Living, Community Center, Social Service Agency
Program Service Area: Rural, Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice