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Sandwich Generation: Dementia patients use art to connect with community

Seniors discover their new purpose and passion stroke by stroke.

HOPKINS, Minn. — Tom Donnellan never considered himself an artist until his sessions at Augustana Open Circle Adult Day Center in Hopkins.

"It relieves tension and gives you a sense of achievement," Donnellan said.

Donnellan, an Open Circle member, is one of more than 15 people who are working on a process painting project. While each person has a different level of artistic ability, they all share one thing in common: A dementia diagnosis. 

At Augustana Open Circle Adult Day Center in Hopkins, about 80 percent of the members have a dementia diagnosis. This art therapy program is a partnership between Open Circle and Adler Graduate School.

"Our members tend to have a sense of isolation when they're diagnosed with dementia. They're living in the community and slowly they're losing all of the things that connect them to the life that they recognized. So this type of purposeful programming, like the art programming, brings back that purpose and meaning. It also, I think, challenges them," said Mark Rosen, director of therapeutic programming for Open Circle Adult Day Services. 

For more information about the Augustana Open Circle Adult Day Center, click here.