A new view through hospice art therapy

Posted by Megan Andriano

A new view through hospice art therapy

Barb had been an active, independent and social woman who was now bedbound in the home where she raised her family.

At 94 years of age, she primarily depended on her adult son and hospice team for her care. Barb’s family was planning to move her from her home to a nursing facility, which brought on anxiety as well as feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

Her hospice care team recommended art therapy to help elevate her mood. I was Barb’s art therapist.    

With my first visit, Barb was quick to decline art making, but opened up as we talked about her favorite flower, Lily of the Valley. She smiled as she watched me paint a picture of them.

With my next visit, I saw the picture I had painted was taped to Barb’s wall by her hospital bed. Her move was scheduled to be the following week. 

Barb was in her hospital bed with her lipstick perfectly applied as it was my last visit, but this time there were packed boxes all around her, filled with her precious belongings.

The visit started with Barb expressing her sadness over leaving her home of more than 60 years. 

She explained how much she loved the large window in her front living room and how her new place only had one small window. I listened as she shared her frustrations. 

I brought out my computer and asked if I could type as she shared some memories. Barb welcomed me to type but warned that she won’t have much to share. 

I began cautiously as I asked about when she first bought the house. Barb’s affect and demeaner quickly brightened as she shared about how it was the first house she and her husband looked at and they bought it that same day! 

My fingers fluttered quickly over the keyboard as I tried to keep up with her stories about decorating her home with carefully picked out drapery and framed art pieces, how young the neighborhood was when they moved in, and drinking a cool martini on a hot day with a neighbor as their feet kicked in the kiddy pool.  

Whenever there was a pause, I’d read back what I had written with the same upbeat energy she had told the story. 

She smiled, laughed and continued to add more details and share more memories. 

The session that had started by sharing her worries and disappointments completely shifted. 

“I’ll just have to make that small window at my new place a focal point,” Barb said to me.  “Surround it with pictures and decorations.”

Note: Names have been changed.

At JourneyCare, we elevate care to its most advanced level with Integrative Therapies. Learn more about them.

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