August 1, 2014

Rita Hayworth: Creative Arts and Imagination Through The End

Rita Hayworth is remembered for who was onscreen – laughing, dancing, tantalizing, tossing red hair and the siren of the ages. However, Alzheimer’s disease turned actress Rita Hayworth anxious, aggressive, and confused robbing this ravishing woman of her mind and eventually, her life.

Hayworth suffered from the anxiety, aggression and agitation common to Alzheimer’s, but as the disease progressed she found something that soothed her mood and gave her a focus — painting, a hobby she took up late, and with gusto.

As her mind disintegrated, she worked away at an easel in her apartment, producing beautiful, detailed likenesses of flowers. It brought her peace of mind and helped her to relax.

International Alzheimer’s experts agree that creative activities engage areas of the brain that are not damaged by the disease and reawaken a sense of personality, identity and dignity. Through the expression of art, many will find a different perception and understanding of Alzheimer’s.

Famous painter Norman Rockwell also suffered from Alzheimer’s. It’s been said that Rockwell’s paintings help jog the memory and play a part in memory activities, allowing patients to recall emotional memories. His late paintings are therapeutic for the elderly and dementia sufferers.

Rita Hayworth found refuge in painting as an individual as a form of Alzheimer’s disease treatment. I Remember Better When I Paint is a documentary film about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies on people with Alzheimer’s disease from Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Hayworth’s daughter, who is now president of Alzheimer’s Disease International.

“I Remember Better When I Paint is a 2009 feature length international documentary film about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies in people with Alzheimer’s disease, such as Rita Hayworth, and how these approaches can change the way the disease is viewed by society. The film examines the way creative arts bypass the limitations of dementia disorders such as Alzheimer’s and shows how patients’ still-vibrant imaginations are strengthened through therapeutic art.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Remember_Better_When_I_Paint)

People still have imagination intact all the way to the very, very end of their progressive disease.”
~ Judy Holstein, Director of CJE SeniorLife in Chicago