On June 20, Denver marriage and family therapist Lia Jones will spend the day coloring. It’s not a new form of therapy. It’s her way of paying tribute to her 84-year-old mother, Nelly, who is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, and has found a measure of pleasure and refuge from the disease through art.
Along with five other volunteers on her Color My World team, Jones is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado’s The Longest Day program to raise funds to support Alzheimer’s education, services and research, and to pay tribute to those like Nelly who daily deal with the challenges posed by the disease.
Through her education, Jones knows there is only so much she can do to counter the toll that Alzheimer’s is having on her mother.
“The smart, quick, creative woman with dancing feet of fire was struggling to process things we take for granted as simple, everyday parts of life,” said Jones of her mother. It was at that point that Jones realized she needed to help her parents relocate to a senior living residence.
When the disease robbed Nelly of the ability to enjoy reading, daughter Lia turned to art. About five months ago, she bought her mother a coloring book, and the change was immediate.
“She loves it,” said Jones. “It was so helpful to my mom. She spends much of her day surrounded by her colorful pencils and beautiful coloring books.”
Her mother’s discovery of the joys of art inspired Jones to assemble the Color My World team for The Longest Day event with five friends, who will participate in a dawn-to-dusk coloring relay, each coloring during a designated portion of the day. At sunset, the team will gather for a barbecue dinner to share their art and stories. Due to the generosity of donors, Jones’ team already has exceeded its personal fundraising goal of $4,160.
“What a great way to spend the day, joining her (Nelly) in spirit and in action, creating a more colorful world,” said Jones.
But Jones didn’t stop there. She also is helping raise donations for a Longest Day event at her parents’ new home, The Residence at Timber Pines in Spring Hill, Florida, where residents and staff there will be participating in their own events to raise funds for the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Her Dad will also be physically participating in the events at The Residences throughout their event day.
“When it comes to Alzheimer’s, it’s a new concept for many people to consider because we’re all living longer,” said Jones. “It has become an epidemic, and it’s something with which we all need to be concerned. We all know someone affected by Alzheimer’s.”