Progress: John Watts is pictured painting in a class brought about by WindReach and Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  Centre is Liz Stewart, president of the ADD, and his daughter Julie Rocha. *Photo by Glenn Tucker
Progress: John Watts is pictured painting in a class brought about by WindReach and Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Centre is Liz Stewart, president of the ADD, and his daughter Julie Rocha. *Photo by Glenn Tucker
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For John Watts, Monday morning is all about art.

He can’t wait to catch up with friends and get a paintbrush in his hand for the 10am to 11am class.

But this is a different kind of class.

Mr Watts is 74 and he has the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

And every Monday he and a dozen or so other seniors with dementia gather at WindReach in Warwick to paint.

The class is the result of a new partnership between WindReach and Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia (AAD).

And the new initiative, which also involves laughing therapy and animal interaction, has proven to be a huge success.

Mr Watts also attends a similar class on a Saturday with his daughter, Julie Rocha.

Mrs Rocha told the Sun: “The Monday morning class is so important to him.

Social outlet

“It’s a social outlet but it also allows him to use a part of his brain that is creative. He’s always been a hands-on guy and worked as a carpenter.

“And he has really taken to art class at WindReach. He loves the interaction because he can sometimes go into his shell at home.”

She added: “The lessons give us both some one-on-one time together — something I cherish, especially now that I have my own family and busy working life. 

“With five brothers and sisters, it’s not easy having some quiet time to share together.

“During the classes, my dad is so happy and says some really funny quotes or sayings from the past — something he doesn’t normally do when he’s with the family as a group — I think he gets confused when there is general
conversation.

“My dad’s paintings have so much of his talent behind the scenes that only his family and close friends would recognize and as such, we will have not only our home that he built but now his beautiful paintings to admire as a large part of the legacy he’s giving us throughout his life to appreciate even more when he’s no longer here.”

Elizabeth Stewart, president of AAD, says the initiative has already had successful results.

She added: “The same individuals have attended week-on-week since the start and have formed a real bond with each other and camaraderie.

They now notice if someone is missing from the group and ask where they are. The programme offers meaningful engagement in activities such are art, music and bocce, which a person with dementia might not otherwise have the chance to experience as dementia tends to be an isolating disease. It is a real chance to share with each other the dementia journey and gives people a sense of purpose and sense of self along with achievement, whether it is winning a game of bocce or finishing an artistic piece.”

AAD is planning to expand activities in the community.

In August, the Monday activities morning will be held at the Peace Lutheran Church Hall from 9:30am-12pm. 

To find out more about the WindReach classes, email alzbermuda@yahoo.com or call 707-0600.