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Mothering our Mothers with Dementia

16 May 2012 5,711 views

by Rita Watson

by Hilgos

When Berna Huebner was told about her mother, “The lights are out,” she sought help in the world of art. Huebner, who is herself a mother, says:  “This unfortunately is not a story about a miraculous cure – rather it is a tale of transformation.” Depicted in a documentary she created  I Remember Better When I Paint,  narrated by Olivia de Havilland the story gives hope to children whose mothers live in a world in which their memories have been hijacked by a debilitating disease. Huebner said to me: “As anyone will tell you, Alzheimer’s is an aggressive and difficult disease. My mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s was no exception. As the disease tightened its grip she would often become agitated and distant.  And then finally, she stopped speaking altogether.”

Hope through her art

Huebner recalled: “I struggled to find a way to reach her. Doctors and nurses were pessimistic about my chances of accessing my mother’s memory and ultimately communicating with her, a woman who had once been full of life and light; a woman who valued her work and independence.”

When everyone was giving up on the worsening dementia of Huebner’s mother, painter Hilda Goldblatt Gorenstein, she was given hope by her mother’s psychiatrist.  He suggested that Huebner contact her mother’s former art school, the Art Institute of Chicago.

Huebner recalls: “When I asked my mother if she would like to paint again, her eyes suddenly sparkled, and she answered, ‘Yes, I remember better when I paint.’ ”

To continue reading at Rita Watson’s Psychology Today blog, please go to: Read More

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