Creative engagement is using our creativity and imagination to connect with others. We use storytelling, poetry, art, music, theatre, gardening, and maybe even crafts as something we can do together to become relational with one another. We tap into that part of the human spirit that dementia can never take away. Through this, we honor the dignity and purpose of each individual, helping them live the life they are seeking, to best of our ability. We find success, community development, and joy. Creative Engagement allows us to help another individual experience an activity that is sensory, purposeful, and sometimes physical. It gives us a window to open up in ways that are non-linear, floating the line between the fictional and one’s biography. It allows us to dance between the verbal and non-verbal.
As human beings, we were created to create. This plays out in our careers, our families, our hobbies and interests. It is crucial that our creating never stops, especially after the diagnosis of a form of dementia. While creating, we must be cognizant of what holds special interest for each person, what causes them to become engaged, interested, and curious.
Creative Engagement plays out in many different ways, and its success is often determined by the value it brings to any one particular individual or community while participating in the activity. In the big picture, it can change our community, much like the work Anne Basting cultivated with The Penelope Project and I Won’t Grow Up. On a personal level, it can change the world of an individual, their outlook on life, their joy, hope, and can connect them to others in meaningful ways. As care partners, it can change the way we see aging and dementia, becoming a stepping stone to improve the way we care for others and build our communities.
Programs rooted in Creative Engagement cause us to laugh and to smile, and sometimes cry, but they always tap into the beauty of human connection. It brings together the emotional and physical elements of our being. It does not force us to recall specific information. We can be, and we can become the person we seek within ourselves.
Creative Engagement is not just some light and fluffy feel-good care model. It has research and success stories from thousands of individuals across the globe. The evidence behind the use of creativity cannot be ignored. So let us engage with one another using our creativity, our imagination, taping into the beauty of our humanity.