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Memories in the Making / Training Manual
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I wrote the Memories in the Making (MIM) Training Manual  to memorialize the best practices of talented art facilitators across the country, and to provide a framework for expanding the program to new locations.  I believe it is essential to unite our combined knowledge in one central location to ensure longevity of this beneficial creative art activity, which has been recognized nationally as a model for dementia care.  The Training Manual is based on over twenty years of experience with the MIM program, and my own experiences as an art facilitator.

As the National Memories in the Making Program consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County, I have my finger on the pulse of MIM and I understand the growing interest in this program.   I receive inquiries daily from families who are seeking a meaningful activity for their loved one, and need to know where to find a MIM program in their area.  I also receive several inquiries from activity directors who want to be trained to implement the program in their location.  However, the most exciting inquiries come from students who are writing papers and/or conducting research about the benefits of MIM, because this data provides valuable insight regarding why the program is so valuable to Alzheimer’s patients, their family members, and paid caregivers.  The overwhelming interest in the program was the impetus for creating a book that is easy to understand and would educate readers from a wide range of audiences about MIM

The following is just a glimpse of the topics addressed:

  • ·         Art examples and success stories
  • ·         History of the MIM program
  • ·         MIM Modalities (i.e. Person Centered Care and Validation Therapy)
  • ·         Current research supporting MIM
  • ·         What Alzheimer’s disease is and how the disease progresses
  • ·         Detailed instructions on how to start a MIM program and conduct MIM classes
  • ·         Helpful hints for engaging Alzheimer’s artists
  • ·         Listing of Alzheimer’s Association Chapters that offer MIM

On a personal note, I wrote my first book about the MIM program, I am Still Here, in 2005.  At the time, I was working as an art facilitator at two different care facilities each day, and I was often frustrated when the facility would send in patients who were seemingly unwilling or unable to participate in MIM.  However, I had an important breakthrough with a man named Alan, who had previously refused to pick up the paint brush.  By changing my approach to Alan, I was able to get him to draw a picture that was very meaningful to his family, and I learned that it is essential for the art facilitator to be creative when interacting with Alzheimer’s artists.  Alan inspired me and propelled my career on a very different path that has lasted for 15 years.  My experience with Alan also prompted me to develop tried and true techniques for engaging Alzheimer’s artists, and to document them for others to learn from and add to.  The writing of the Memories in the Making, 2010 training book is the result of my passionate journey as a Memories in the Making art facilitator and it is my hope that sharing my experiences will elevate the quality of care for people living with dementia by giving them a voice to tell their story through art.

La Doris “Sam” Heinly, MSW

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