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Art program offered for dementia patients in the Triad

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Walter Byrd, 92, enjoys drawing.

Art has been a part of life for years.

As he ages, it helps him focus.

“I’m a pencil guy. I’m a drawer,” he said.

He is a participant in ARTmail for Alzheimer’s – a program developed by the Creative Aging Network-NC to help people in various stages of dementia.

“ARTmail is an art exchange program and participants at one site are paired up with participants at another site and they each create artwork and exchange it over an eight-week period and build on each other’s artwork,” said Lia Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Creative Aging Network-NC.

The organization is collaborating with UNC-Greensboro for a detailed look at the program’s impact on seniors with cognitive challenges.

The program has been in place since 2010, but was modified over the years.

Through its duration, Miller says the results have been positive including showing an increase in concentration time.

“What we see is improved mood while they're in the program, improved communication for several hours afterwards,” she said.

Byrd’s son, Walter R. Byrd, has seen his father thrive in the program he attends at Pace of the Triad.

“I think he's working hard at it but he's enjoying every minute of it,” he said.

Triad Retirement Living Association is one of the organization’s providing grant money to help the Creative Aging Network-NC’s fund its needs, including support for buying supplies and training instructors.

“It's sad to see and you want them to have a better quality of life and if we can help them as an association by funding these projects, and helping the nonprofits, we've done some of God's work, serving. It's all about serving,” TRLA president Stephanie Franklin said.

To learn more about ARTmail for Alzheimer’s visit can-nc.org/artmail or call (336) 253-0856.

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