Arts helping with Alzheimer’s patients on the Peninsula

We Rage We Weep program tries to be a bright spot.

Jo-Anne Sun takes part in We Rage We Weep. She and others painted the Queen in celebration of the regent’s 90th birthday.

For the last three months, We Rage We Weep — a program for seniors with dementia — has been a positive experience for many people in the Sidney area.

“The feedback’s been very positive. Everybody seems to really enjoy it a lot. The caregivers, the clients, we get comments like, this is their favourite program that they come to, and just some of the things that they’ve seen with people,” said Executive Director, Marjorie Moulton.

Held in Oak Bay and Victoria as well, the Sidney program held at the SHOAL Centre sees a half-dozen people take part. Moulton said one man is now playing guitar again. He hadn’t picked it up for a very long time and credited the program with enabling him to try and do it again along . He’s also added writing music to his activities.

Sidney Senior Care caregiver Lesly Phillips, who was asked to come out and help, works with Bob Cyr, a patient with Alzheimer’s.

“He loves music and he’s got a guitar and we give him the guitar and he just strums and he just loves it,” she said, adding Cyr has enjoyed singing and the overall sounds of music as well.

In terms of his progress from day one of the program, Phillips said she feels that he is blossoming.

“Even with his art, his spacial work is diminished, he still enjoys, he doesn’t get frustrated or anything,” she said.

“He just goes along with everything. It’s just a joy to work with him.”

The first hour of the sessions is an art project, which sees participants taking part in various collages, clay sculptures, 3D buildings and more. Most recently, clients painted Queen-themed pictures to celebrate the monarch’s 90th birthday.

The second hour is the music, where participants have an opportunity to listen and sing along to songs from a performer.

One of the participants is Jo Anne Sun, whose husband is in the advanced stages of dementia in complex care and who cannot participate.

“I sit here in absolute awe that each of these men are in various stages of dementia and yet they’re all able to do the art project and they do the art project every week that we come here,” she said.

We Rage We Weep takes place at the SHOAL Centre every Wednesday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and runs until June 29.

Anyone is welcome to drop in, with a donation of $10 per session.