Teaching art to those with dementia a fulfilling role for local artist
Farragut resident Sheryl Jackson is using her talent to start a new business venture — teaching art to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Jackson, 66, started as a volunteer at Clarity Pointe Memory Care Assisted Living, 901 Concord Road, where her mother, Fairy Stone, is a resident. Jackson now is “kicking around” an idea to branch out to other memory care facilities.
“This has blossomed to other things,” Jackson said.
Clarity Pointe started paying Jackson for her services and she recently got her business license.
“It’s very fulfilling,” she said about her role at Clarity Pointe. “It’s a reap-what-you-sow-type of thing. It is near and dear to my heart because of my mother and when I think of the friendships I have made here and the fun we have, it’s very important to me.
“They say I give a lot but they give me so much more. Otherwise, I wouldn’t come,” Jackson added.
“[The class] gives [residents] a sense of purpose and vocation,” said Martissah Hayes, Clarity Pointe Life Enrichment director. “It really hits on every aspect of their wellness, spiritual, emotional and even physical well-being.
“They are able to use those fine motor skills. Some of them have never done this before and once they are here they will stay here for three hours,” Hayes added. “They are so proud when they see what they create.
“And, Sheryl does the best job of breaking it down to where it’s understandable and makes sense to them.”
“I like the personalities of the class,” resident Hollie Hodges said. “I’m discovering a new world here. I haven’t done anything like this ever, so I’m anxious to see what I’ve done once I finish this.”
“Oh, I like everything about doing [the class],” resident Mary Lou Harvey said. “I like the coloring simply because it makes me feel like I’m doing something I really love.”
Jackson comes twice a week to help Clarity Pointe residents with their art.
“This is a great thing for [the residents] because it teaches them a whole new skill set,” Jackson said. “A lot of these folks have never picked up a paint brush before and they’re really enjoying it. It’s very good for the soul.”
The residents usually use watercolor pencils, watercolor paint and regular color pencils on much of their pieces.
Jackson worked commercially for interior designers for about 38 years before she retired.
“In 2005, it was pretty clear we had to do something about my parents,” Jackson said. “My dad was quite ill. He had dementia and emphysema.”
She and husband, Ken, moved her parents from Tellico Village to Village Green and the Jacksons sold their own North Knoxville home to move to Village Green. After her father died two years later, Jackson said they realized her mother, Fairy Stone, also had dementia. She subsequently was moved to Clarity Pointe and Jackson decided to volunteer there.
“I felt like I needed to be doing something, and I have hundreds of prints,” she said. “I had a great deal of inventory left over from when I was working.
“I thought this would be a great project for residents at Clarity Pointe because, basically, it’s just coloring and they love to do that,” Jackson added. “It’s been a very popular program, and we’re going on our third year.”
Jackson can be contacted at sjart.net.