When Words Have Lost Their Meaning

Alzheimer's Patients Communicate through Art

by Ruth Abraham


Shows how creating art can give people with Alzheimer's a means to communicate their remaining memory, thoughts, spontaneity, and playfulness.

Print Flyer

November 2004


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/General

Therapist Abraham shows how art can provide people with Alzheimer's disease a way to express their thoughts and emotions, when they can no longer communicate well verbally and words have lost their meaning. Abraham believes it is our moral obligation to provide elders with this tool, lest they be prematurely deemed beyond interaction. The confidence and self-esteem of elders—and that of the people who love them —can be bolstered by art therapy. And this is the first work demonstrating that art is not just busy work for those with Alzheimer's, but a profound and symbolic method allowing them to communicate. This work includes more than 70 drawings and paintings by people with Alzheimer's, and case histories of the men and women who created the artworks.

Art activities, with a significant therapeutic relationship, can especially increase quality of life for people with Alzheimer's, particularly during the seven-year relatively stable period of the illness. Psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and health care workers will also find this work especially valuable and insightful.

Table of Contents

Getting to Know the Alzheimer's Patient
Does Art Therapy Really Help?
The Therapeutic Hour: A Practical Guide
Theoretical Perspectives
Portraits: Three Case Studies
Promoting Art Therapy
A Personal Story



In this immensely moving account Ruth Abraham gives a powerful sense of the life of the patient affected by Alzheimer's. Through lovingly described clinical examples and vivid pictorial illustrations she takes us into the world of the patient and their carers. The book offers practical advice alongside sensitive descriptions of the ravages of the disease but none the less it always remains optimistic. It becomes clear that art therapy can offer a positive contribution by facilitating expression of the personality long after many other faculties have diminished. This is a true contribution to the art therapy literature and it will be a must for art therapists and it will also be of significant interest to all those professionals who work with this client group as well as their families and carers.—Joy Schaverien, ^LProfessor of Art Psychotherapy, ^LUniversity of Sheffield, ^Lauthor of ^IThe Revealing Image^R

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Cinema and Life Development cover imageFatal Attachments cover imageUnderstanding Paranoia cover image
Aging with Attitude cover imageImagery in Psychology cover imageThe Art of Managing Everyday Conflict cover image

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