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VOLUNTEERS : Calendar by Alzheimer's Assn. Will Benefit Patients

July 10, 1991|CINDY MURPHY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Art is an expressive medium, and it's by the power of the brush that local Alzheimer's victims communicate.

The Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County is showcasing victims' artwork this fall in its Third Annual Memories in the Making art show. Original artwork will be auctioned and the proceeds will benefit the association.

Volunteers at the Alzheimer's Assn. are creating a calendar that will feature 14 color paintings from the exhibit plus information about each artist.

This is the first time an Alzheimer's Assn. has put together a calendar.

Proceeds will benefit the local association for "where it's needed the most," says Selly Jenny, board member and volunteer for the Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County. "It will directly help people with Alzheimer's and their families."

To raise additional funds, sponsors will have an opportunity to buy a date on the calendar for $100. Personalized messages will appear on specific dates, signifying birthdays or anniversaries.

Volunteers are needed to sell the calendar and advertisements for it.

Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that deteriorates brain cells, making communication difficult. The disease confuses its victims. They are no longer able to remember the name of a friend or loved one. Eventually their capacity to learn and remember dissipates.

One of the mysteries about the disease is that occasionally the victim's mind functions normally for a short period of time. The victim is then able to form complete thoughts and speak coherently.

"There's more going on in these people than is realized," says Jenny. "We started doing (paintings) with them and we found they do express themselves. They tend to live in the past and still have memories from way back but have trouble expressing them right."

Alzheimer's victims paint pictures that tell stories of their lives or of subjects that interest them.

"(Art) is now becoming a very important part of Alzheimer's research," says Jenny. "It's really changed a lot of the approach of what the brain does and what we realize (victims) can do. It has also been a tremendous boon to the behavioral care of victims because we understand them better, we get an idea of who they are, or who they used to be."

The Memories in the Making show premiers Oct. 20 with a champagne brunch at Mr. Stox Restaurant in Anaheim.

From Oct. 23 to Oct. 26, the artwork will be on display at Chapman College's Guggenheim Gallery in Orange.

The exhibit will then be seen through November at various Home Savings of America lobbies in the county.

The calendar begins with November, 1991, which is national Alzheimer's month. The $10 calendars will be available at the art show in October.

For more information about the calendar or the exhibit, call the Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County at (714) 283-1111.

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