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Salinas assisted living facility hosts art exhibit to benefit Alzheimer’s Association

The Salinas Californian logo The Salinas Californian 6/28/2022 Marvin Green IV

Some believe that as we get older, it becomes harder to learn new things. The residents of Madonna Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care beg to differ.

With the help of Lifestyle Director Cheryl Bruno, Madonna Gardens residents have learned or reignited a passion for art. 

Her students' creations are now helping others.

“I just love art,” Bruno said. "It’s very therapeutic. Everyone loves it regardless of where they began.”

At Saturday's inhouse art exhibit, Madonna Gardens' residents had the opportunity to showcase their artwork and support the Monterey County association.

June is Brain Awareness Month and The Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day. Donations collected during the art show benefitted the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. 

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“We are so happy to collaborate with the talented artist residents at Madonna Gardens," said Philip Geiger, regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Monterey. "We appreciate the partnership and look forward to a wonderful event that benefits the Walk to End Alzheimer’s."

Life imitates art 

During Saturday's event, guests were greeted by soft guitar in the background, played by a live artist. The music provided an excellent backdrop to take in the creations of some of the world's most experienced (in life) artists.

The residents-turned-artists created something special, at a time when they are most comfortable with themselves. 

“Being able to laugh at each other and compliment each other is just so wonderful,” said Madonna Gardens resident George Pannullo. 

George Pannullo participated in Madonna Gardens art show on Saturday, June 25, 2022. © Marvin Green IV George Pannullo participated in Madonna Gardens art show on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

Bruno, students say, is a calm and understanding presence. She often teaches a particular skill, such as working with texture or watercolor skies. Bruno then uses the skills with the residents to create works of art.

“We learn different techniques,” Bruno said. “Afterward, they all create an original piece.”

Under Bruno’s tutelage, every resident has created art, regardless of their physical abilities.

As she walks around the room, Bruno holds up a small piece of art created by a resident without the ability to hold a brush steady. It features paint poured purposefully in different colors, in what looks like a thought-out piece.

“I am so pleased that our residents, both in assisted living and memory care, truly enjoy the art activities offered," she said. "I love to see the close friendships develop among our residents. I also watch how art expression positively impacts those living with Alzheimer’s as well.”

Bruno stresses that regardless of ability or age, these residents are creating meaningful work reflective of their life experience.

It’s also clear that this group has become about more than just the art. Not only are some rekindling a love for creativity, but others are learning a new talent.

“I took art in school,” Pannullo said, “but Cheryl is the one who has made us blossom with her instructions.”

Throughout the morning, residents were wheeled in or walked through the show, admiring the work created by their peers. The connection these artists share was obvious as they showed visitors what they and their friends created.

"The group is so social, being with other people,” he said. "It’s been a great activity.”

Panullo said he feels like he's found a home at Madonna Gardens.

“I came to a point where I wasn’t able to care for myself,” he said “This really was the best place to go. Working with Cheryl really makes this worth it.”

Quick facts about Alzheimer's 

  • More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.
  • One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • In 2022, Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the nation $321 billion. By 2050, these costs could reach nearly $1 trillion.
  • More than 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias.
  • In 2021, these caregivers provided more than 16 billion hours of care valued at nearly $272 billion.

Source: Alzheimer's Association 

Madonna Gardens hosted an art exhibit showcasing works of art created by its assisted living and memory care residents on Saturday, June 25, 2022. © Marvin Green IV Madonna Gardens hosted an art exhibit showcasing works of art created by its assisted living and memory care residents on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

This article originally appeared on Salinas Californian: Salinas assisted living facility hosts art exhibit to benefit Alzheimer’s Association

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