The following is an introduction to my 2007 Art Therapy case study regarding work with the elder population:


‘“Perhaps a person gains by accumulating obstacles… Care must be taken, however, to select large obstacles, for only those of sufficient scope and scale have the capacity to lift us out of context and force life to appear in an entirely new and unexpected light.”

-Tom Robbins, “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”


Elders who are no longer able to care for themselves, known as frail elders, struggle not only with the expected developmental tasks associated with aging, but also with additional profound losses. The definition of “frail elder” itself is also changing, as the populations who are admitted into care facilities is changing to include those with chronic substance abuse and/or mental health problems.


Mental illness in the elderly can often be seen together with multiple physical complaints, yet this aspect is in danger of being overlooked by a medical system of care that focuses primarily on physical symptoms and behavior management at the expense of quality of life. Elders generally, and the frail elder population in particular, have historically been the victims of cultural prejudice and misunderstanding in the United States. The legacy of this prejudice has resulted in the mental health needs of elders being overlooked, misunderstood, or underserved by care settings. However, recent literature explodes the myth that illness and infirmity need be an inevitable fact of the aging process. New models of “healthy aging” include factors such as openness and creativity as strengths that can help promote well-being. As such, Art Therapy can assist elderly clients in achieving many of their specific needs, including enhancing well-being, reconnecting with a sense of purpose, and helping to put past events into proper perspective. Art Therapy can also provide a way of non-verbal “working through” for elders who have communication difficulties.


Frail elders in today’s society face challenges on many fronts. The application of humanistic treatment models may help to “plug the gaps” that are left when elder care focuses strictly on clinical models. The case study is one example of how this work was applied in day treatment with a frail elderly gentleman who suffered from both physical and mental disorders.’


This is a post on the Facebook page for my former art studio, Secret Hideout Studio, advertising a First Friday art event. You can also access the native webpage here.

Join us this April for the show,

“Nothing Will Come Between Us”

A ONE NIGHT ONLY visual art and poetry event with local art rock star, Chris Haberman.

Chris’s images have made an impact on walls nearly everywhere people go in Portland, from the LOVE show at Olympic Mills Gallery, to Portland City Art, to the Goodfoot, to City Hall, to the MEAT store. He has been a veteran of the Portland open MIC poetry scene, as well as the instigator of many progressive arts events over the past few years. Check out some of the online links to his work below.

This evening’s work will feature a display of Chris’s recent visual arts work, that are based off of “poems” that he has written. He will also perform some of his selected poems live.

There will also be the usual Studio Artmaking Night and Potluck, with a twist- We will be creating a group collage based on writing a group poem! To be performed/read/interpretive danced at the end of the evening 🙂

We hope to see you for First Friday in April!”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s