When a person walks into The Saybrook at Haddam for the first time, he is often struck by the gracious beauty of the community. The reception area and front parlor are dramatic with high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, large oak staircase, and two beautiful fireplaces each featuring locally quarried stone handcrafted exclusively for the community. The warmth and comfort of these areas are reflected in the rugs, draperies, furniture and, of course, the art.
Art is of particular importance to The Saybrook at Haddam, since it truly reflects how we perceive our community. Each piece was carefully chosen to bring beauty to the different common rooms and hallways without being a distraction. The subjects of the many paintings and objects are varied– from beach scenes, to bicycles, to florals and animals – chosen to bring enjoyment to residents and visitors alike.
We love to see the art residents have in their homes at The Saybrook at Haddam – which reflect their travels, hobbies and interests. Some residents display art they created (paintings, drawings, sculptures, or photos), which become wonderful conversation pieces with their new friends. Last year, we hosted our first “resident art show” to showcase residents’ artistic talents to friends and visitors. This was a wonderful way to learn more about our neighbors, and the stories behind the art they create.
Several residents’ love of art inspired us to add more art-themed opportunities at The Saybrook at Haddam. We began to invite instructors in who could help residents create beautiful watercolor and oil paintings, which were challenging for seasoned artists but also appropriate for beginners.
We began hosting art appreciation events with local artists for in-depth discussions on some famous masterpieces, reviewing elements such as form, style, light and depth, as well as the history and inspiration behind the paintings. Additionally, we offered a weekly “Great Courses” program just on Le Louvre in Paris – the world’s largest museum and historic monument. It has been fascinating to learn so much about this stunning landmark and its treasures within.
In our Safe Harbor Memory Care neighborhood, art appreciation and other sensory experiences are an important part of our engagement activities and are critical aspects of dementia care. In some cases, the visual arts can be the “link” that unlocks or refreshes a resident’s memory, or can offer a calming experience for less verbal residents.
Our Safe Harbor program director, Ann Bertini, creates lesson plans to expose residents to the fine arts through biographies, viewing media, and participating in hands-on activities. Recently, Ann focused on “impressionistic pointillism” and artists such as Henri Matisse and Georges Seurat. Using photographic examples of the ballerina theme, residents tried the pointillism technique of applying small dots onto canvas (which requires the viewer to mix the colors optically). Ann supplements these activities by planning trips to local museums such as the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme so residents have the chance to directly experience the color, shadows, strokes, and other elements of the masters.
We know involvement in the arts benefits people of all ages, seniors included. From improved eye-to-hand coordination, increased concentration, and even lower blood pressure, the simple act of creating and appreciating art has so much to offer when it is embraced.
And embrace it we do – in everything from the décor of our front parlor and throughout our community, to our varied programs, and special events. Come visit and see for yourself. Better yet, stop by on May 26 to see our first Safe Harbor Memory Care art show. You will be amazed and inspired!
For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam and the Safe Harbor Memory Care Neighborhood, please contact David Downey by clicking here or calling 860-345-3779.