Touchmark wins award for innovative painting therapy

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BISMARCK, N.D. - One person's love of painting and another's love for essential oils, combined to potentially innovative therapy for patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. But before the residents make a brush stroke, Whitney Ruscheinsky decides how she wants a session to go.

"If they're having a bad day, I would use an oil that promotes the color yellow or sunshine so it uplifts them a little bit,” said Ruscheinsky.

Then she has them write their name, dabs some essential oil on their wrist, and lets them choose the paint. Whitney leads the Fragrance with Frames program at Touchmark in Bismarck. An award winning program.

"The award was just a benefit on top of what we see here on a daily basis with the residents,” said Life Enrichment Director Amy Miller.

The International Council on Active Aging gave Touchmark an Innovators Achievement Award for the Fragrance for Frames program. Whitney says the artists take pride in the work they create.

"It's nice to see how they interact with all the other residents. It's like they're proud of the work that they've done,” said Ruscheinsky.

It paints a clearer picture in their minds.

"Depending on where they are at in their process with dementia, that clarity can last just a short amount of time or it can last and have a real great lasting effect,” said Miller.

The residents will soon share their work with the public. Starting October 23, Touchmark will open a gallery to the public showcasing the resident's works. Then on October 26, they will have a silent auction of the artwork, benefiting the Alzheimer's Association. To RSVP for the event on October 26, call Whitney Ruscheinsky at 701-323-7000.