The Mission

To celebrate the creativity of persons living with dementia and empower them to enrich their lives through art within a dementia-friendly community.

The Inspiration

I was raised in the shadow of Alzheimer’s. Nearly everyone on my father’s side of the family, and many on mother’s side, developed the disease.  My family was taught that when Alzheimer’s arrived, it was like a death—actually worse than death.  Our parents warned us, “Don’t sacrifice your lives for us.  When our time comes, just walk away.” And we took them at their word.

…and then Mom began to paint. 

The paintings were amazing. She had never painted a day in her life, yet her work was good. It was really good. The paintings were always interesting and sometimes remarkable. Slowly, I began to understand. Even though Mom had a short term memory of about ten seconds, she was still here. Distilled to her essence, Mom was creative, loving and joyful. 

I shared her art with others and the reaction was always the same—delight, surprise and gratitude to finally experience an Alzheimer’s story filled with hope and joy.  I founded the Art of Alzheimer’s to celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit and the power creative arts has to enrich and empower lives within a dementia friendly community.

— Marilyn Raichle, Founder

The Goal

Through intriguing exhibitions and publications, Art of Alzheimer’s strives to celebrate and honor the creativity of persons with dementia and amplify that message to the public. We seek to strengthen the community of support serving the ever-widening circle of individuals and families living with memory loss and dementia.

Through exposure to the creative arts, the Art of Alzheimer’s enriches the lives of persons living with memory loss and dementia. When individuals with memory loss experience the joy and intensity of creation, they also build and strengthen relationships; it fosters social interaction, lessens anxiety and develops a heightened sense of control over the surrounding environment.

For audiences not touched by memory loss Art of Alzheimer’s impact is equally important.  Art effortlessly connects—overcoming stigma, inspiring awareness, knowledge, appreciation, empathy and connection.

The Art of Alzheimer’s invites the entire community to celebrate the creativity and imagination of persons with dementia to strengthen our shared resolve and build a Dementia Friendly Community.

The Terms

Common terms

Advisors & Support Team

Marcus E. Raichle, M.D.  Alan A. & Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University of Medicine

Thomas Grabowski MD, Director, Memory and Brain Wellness Center at Harborview and Professor of Radiology and Neurology, University of Washington

Cathy Greenblat, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Rutgers University; Creator & Curator, Love, Loss and Laughter

Nancy R. Hooyman, Ph.D. Dean Emeritus, UW School of Social Work

Carin Mack, MSW, ACSW, Social worker, Greenwood Community Center

Shunpike, a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that provides independent arts groups in Washington State with the services, resources, and opportunities they need to forge their own paths to sustainable success.

Jennifer Rice, Rice Public Relations LLC, Marketing and Strategic Planning

Julia Beers, Dropped Aitch Productions, Website and Social Media

Above, top: Art by Jane Kippenhan, created at Elderwise®.