Maria Shriver Creates 1st Coloring Book for Alzheimer’s Patients

Maria has created the first coloring book for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.  And we’re excited about it.  I’ve known Maria Shriver since the ’80s and even had an opportunity to fill-in for her during technical rehearsals on an NBC show called Main Street. She and Bryant Gumbel hosted it.  She’s an incredibly intelligent, affable and warm person. So, I’m delighted to share this news with you.

 

Maria with her dad, Sargent Shriver, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003
[Photo Credit:  Laurence L. Levin]

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The project was inspired by Shriver’s quest to find ways to be close to her father, Sargent Shriver, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2003.  He passed away in 2011.

“When I would go to visit my dad as his disease progressed, I had fewer and fewer things that I could do with him,” Shriver told NBC’s TODAY.

I could take a walk with him, but a lot of times he didn’t want to walk. I played puzzles with him and sometimes drew on a piece of paper.”

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Images in Maria Shriver’s book were developed through visits to the nursing home.  They include upbeat, positive, fun, hopeful images for stress-relief.

It also includes tips for caregivers culled from conversations with doctors and families.

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Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital says the coloring book can help start a conversation and help families do an activity together.

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Isaacson tells TODAY, “The person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate his or her thoughts as well as they used to or may not remember what happened to the conversation 10 minutes ago, but they’re able to express themselves through art — through drawing.”

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Dr. Isaacson continues, “Some patients with Alzheimer’s like to move and can’t sit still… coloring is a great way to refocus negative energy and do something more calm.”

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. More than 5M Americans live with it–one in 8 people age 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Maria Shriver says this coloring book is a labor of love, “I’m really hopeful this is filling a void and a need and will change people’s lives,” she says, noting she would have liked to have shared it with her dad.

“I think it would have brought laughter. It would have enabled us to do something together.”

We think so too.  Thank you, Maria Shriver.
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Visit NBC TODAY for more on Maria Shriver’s story:
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Links to Purchase Maria’s book at end of article.
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Consequently, a year ago, I was interviewed by Cable Neuhaus in the Saturday Evening Post about the health benefits of adults coloring. He saw my positive FB posts about it.

I told Neuhaus I never stopped coloring, but thought it was an oddball habit of mine.

Years ago, while working at The Crayola Experience in Easton, PA I observed parents enjoy coloring as much as kids and posted about it on FB. They looked so relaxed.

I thought they’re in the moment –essentially what meditation is all about. Makes sense.

Shortly thereafter, adult coloring books began to appear.

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See out Norman Rockwell content!

Coloring Books for Grown-ups

In Issue:

If, as some say, you can judge an entire society by the way it treats its most vulnerable, then I’d argue it is equally fair to measure a nation by the way its citizens fritter away their spare time.

Lately, Americans are frittering like mad in a couple of surprising ways: on outdoor courts playing a game called pickleball, and in coloring books.

Let’s begin with the coloring books, which are meant for adults. The craze began more than a year ago. Color me skeptical, even now, but the wild enthusiasm for this hobby shows no signs of fading. Several of the books sit atop our national best-seller lists. (Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden was the first of the blockbusters, but dozens have followed.) Who, exactly, is buying these — and why?

An admission: When I heard about this fad, my initial thought was unashamedly elitist. What kind of latte-fueled exurbanite would exchange nightly yoga classes for the joylessness of coloring? Maybe someone with no life to speak of? Okay, big mistake. Huge. Turns out that adult coloring books are a raging success across nearly every shade and stratum of the American landscape, from pastures to plains to the towers of Manhattan.

Take, as an example, Maria Dorfner, a native New Yorker who freelance produces at networks. “It calms and centers my mind,” Dorfner, an avid colorer, told me. “Adults need to learn to be more in the moment, like kids with crayons.”

Asked about a Psychology Today story that contended coloring cannot possibly constitute a spiritual experience, despite claims to the contrary by the hobby’s millions of evangelists, Dorfner says, “They’re just wrong about that.” Backing her up is a widely shared perception that coloring does indeed both soothe and heal the mind. (And let’s please agree that the illustrators of these exquisitely drawn books are artists; the color-inners are not.)

“Adults need to learn to be more in the moment, like kids with crayons,” one avid colorer says.

So, what we have here in our go-go digital age is an analog diversion for stressed-out grown-ups. One sits and colors and dreams, and the day’s tiny troubles appear to vanish.

At the other end of the spectrum is a (slightly) more physically demanding pastime, the game of pickleball. Imagine tennis played with wiffle balls and paddles on a diminutive court — Ping-Pong on a grander scale. The sport has rapidly attracted participants coast to coast, mainly among oldsters: The thrill of victory never flags, but the viability of older knees often does, alas.

This helps explain why pickleball, which has been around for a while, exploded in popularity only recently, as our aging population surged. The USA Pickleball Association reports it witnessed an 84 percent membership increase in the last two years alone and now boasts more than 400,000 active players. An Oregon documentarian is developing a movie about its rise.

Steve Brodsky, a 61-year-old Floridian, captured the excitement perfectly: “Pickleball is for older folks who’ve got the fire in the belly,” he told me. “Guys like me can feel, ‘Wow, I’ve still got it!’”

Hot on pickleball’s heels is a variation on that game called POP Tennis, a rebranded version of what we once knew as paddle tennis. Backed by a fresh infusion of cash from Hollywood agent Ken Lindner (Matt Lauer and Lester Holt are among his clients), the U.S. POP Tennis Association is currently rolling out a national tour. It’s aimed at picking up where pickleball leaves off. The appeal of POP Tennis, Lindner told me, is that “anyone can play, young or old. If you can walk, you can hit the ball immediately.”

What conclusions can be drawn from these trends? Well, whether we choose a pencil or a paddle, and whatever our age, Americans seldom let time go to waste. It’s in our character to be restless; it’s a trait that’s long served us well.

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Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Maria Shriver’s book. Links to purchasing it here:

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/color-your-mind-maria-shriver/1126249685

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Color-Your-Mind-Coloring-Alzheimers/dp/1944515488

If you’re an Alzheimer’s caregiver and you pick up the book, please let me know if and how it’s helped. I’d love to hear and share your story.  Email: maria.dorfner@yahoo.com
Subject line:  Caregiver Story: Color Your Mind book

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Thank you Maria Shriver for helping Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers!

mariadorfnerheadshot2   Maria Dorfner is the founder NewsMD Communications and Healthy Within Network.  This is her blog.   Contact: maria.dorfner@yahoo.com
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