Senior Health

Why Are Alzheimer's Patients More Creative than They Were Before?

Creativity as a means of coping

Now that there's a cohesive link between creativity and Alzheimer's, some people are taking action to help Alzheimer's be more creative. One person helping patients is Marilyn Raichle, with her organization Art of Alzheimer's.

Marilyn Raichle grew up with Alzheimer's in her family. Virtually, almost everyone on her father’s side developed Alzheimer’s and many more on her mother’s side did as well. She even has memories of her parents “warning” her and her siblings about the disease, saying “[D]on’t sacrifice your lives for us. When our time comes, just walk away.”

However, once her mother, Jean McFee Raichle, developed Alzheimer's, Raichle saw the positive effects her mother had with painting. She said, “Mom began to paint. These paintings were amazing. She had never painted a day in her life, yet these paintings were really good! They were always interesting and sometimes remarkable.”

What Marilyn found even more important was the difference she could see in Jean when she would paint. She added, “She may have had a short term memory of about 10 seconds, but she was still here - loving, creative, and joyful.”

Furthermore, Marilyn saw that these classes were helpful for both the patient and the caregiver. She explained, “She lived with Alzheimer’s for 14 years, and it was her intriguing art that enabled her to overcome her fear and denial and take that first, and perhaps most difficult, step [to help] any caregiver - to let go of the person who used to be and embrace the wonderful person who is with you now.”