Two programs are set this weekend at the Prairie Arts Center about art therapy for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

At noon Friday, Kaylene Sodawasser of Great Plains Health will speak about the functional aspects of Alzheimer’s and physical benefits of art therapy and movement for dementia patients.

Admission is free. The program will last from noon-1 p.m.. Lunch will be provided by Subway.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Nicole Hoffmann, the director of the Mullen Arts Center, will speak on the mental benefits of art therapy.

Hoffmann received a bachelor of arts in psychology and a master of science in art therapy.

She has extensive experience in art therapy with the elderly, especially those suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, PAC Executive Director Holly Carlini said.

Admission is free. The program will last about an hour.


True life example

Art is therapeutic, and it especially was for Izzy Beman, a North Platte resident who suffered from dementia, glaucoma and arthritis in her later years.

Through Nov. 15, Beman’s artwork is on display at the art center.

Izzy happened to recall aloud one day that she enjoyed art in elementary school, as she talked with her son Rich.

Rich bought her some art supplies. Then he stood back and marveled. Art helped his mother communicate. It settled her mind, body and spirit, he said.

Izzy Beman passed away early this year.

“I never knew what would spark her curiosity — things she saw on TV, in a newspaper, magazines, out of her own head, sometimes just a memory of something, or just an abstract design,” Rich said.

Whatever caught her eye, she set to work and put it down like a daily diary,” Rich told Gene Gilsdorf of the Prairie Arts Center.

Rich said his mother’s art is, in the best sense of the word, of and about what it is to be human, and the compulsion we have as a species to communicate with each other. “Her ‘humanity’ is straight forward, honest and without a shred of self doubt,’” he said.

The artwork became a steady joy in Izzy’s life.

That said, she had good days, and bad days, Rich told Gilsdorf. He remembers the good days.

“As late as a week before her death, having a good day she was quite coherent and was laughing and joking with me,” he said.