“Art is like chocolate for the brain” ~ G. Cohen
There is a new trend of adult coloring books popping up all over the place that are designed to stimulate the mind. These consist of intricate designs from abstract images such as the ones in the ART NOUVEAU DESIGNS coloring book to images of iconic monuments worldwide found in INSPIRED COLORING TRAVEL. Although the concept is good, I find these books extremely tedious and lacking in mind stimulating abilities for those that have neurological disease such as Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s dementia, or other Parkinson’s Plus syndrome in which cognitive abilities are compromised. These books promise ‘to relax and free the mind.’ Have you ever worked or cared for an agitated person who is losing ability to recognize an entire scene of a painting to focus only on the individual parts? This can only cause them to become more agitated. Try putting together a puzzle where the pieces have no connection to one another. This is virtually impossible. So why would you give these patients something they will not be able to enjoy? Plus, these coloring books are expensive.
1-You can achieve same mindless coloring in advanced dementia patients with dollar coloring books which have a variety of themes for every occasion making it fun! However, the purpose of these books and activities is not only to calm, and sooth the patient but rather stimulate their remaining intellect and preserve function for a longer period of time.
We want a variety of activities that will stimulate several areas of the brain at the same time such as frontal lobe tracking things and put things in sequence, parietal lobe matching shapes, and temporal lobe to trigger memories of objects being painted. Best to have larger images and space for coloring enabling patients to stay entertained and focus for longer periods of time. Having larger images also makes coloring easier to stay within the lines and gives a chance to express individuality by using different types of coloring materials like watercolors, markers, crayons, acrylic paints and colored pencils.
My grandmother who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years enjoyed these type of coloring books which not only entertained her but calmed her down. Plus, it was easy to share the coloring books with my daughter who would sit opposite her and color the adjacent page. They used all sorts of materials for their wonderful creations including finger painting. One of their favorite methods to paint. Another one was to use scented colors which also help to stimulate the olfactory nerve.
2- Besides my favorite cheap coloring books which also have a number of activities like tic-tac-toe and word puzzles, I really like the Osborne Big Color by Numbers Book– I like because it has variety of designs, colors and shapes- some small and others larger within same book. These are reasonable and can be found at all large bookstores including amazon.
3- Another fun way of painting is paint famous work of arts by numbers – you can pick favorite artist or period or do a variety. Always pick larger canvases. Room for creativity as well because can use own proper brush stroke technique as well as paint colors to reflect own individual whimsy.
4 – I also like the Books Dream Big, Draw Bigger
5- For those who are dealing with advance Parkinson’s in their life or dealing with dementia, Draw, Doodle Design & Doodle Imagine, Draw. The last three books allow for both the caregivers/partners and Parkinson’s people themselves to become more engaged and interactive thus stimulating cognitive function in several aspects of brain because it asks to do tasks while drawing which requires recollection of objects, places and memory of shape of what is being asked to draw plus helps with coordination and fine motor skills. But, in reality all of these books/ painting crafts are perfect for any stage to keep the pathways and neuronal connections viable. Remember art is a gift many of us with PD have been given due to our illness as well as a side effect of medication so go ahead indulge.