- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) - Alzheimer’s patients who have to live behind locked doors in a nursing home tend to sit and stare at them, Tim Savage said.

They are also prone to try to escape.

Savage, whose mom was a patient at Sage View Care Center for many years, had a dream of disguising those doors with a beautiful view of nature.

After seven years, his dream became a reality, reported the Rocket-Miner (https://bit.ly/2eDcM5V).

Instead of seeing stark brown doors that prevent them from leaving, Sage View Alzheimer’s patients now see the scenic area known as Wild Iris near Lander.

“It makes such a difference in the atmosphere,” Pamela Sipe said.

ENJOYING THE PROCESS

Sipe, an art teacher at Rock Springs schools, was recruited to paint the mural on the doors. She enlisted the help of fellow art teacher Chrissy Wilmetti Pruett.

“We had so much fun,” Sipe said about the three months it took them to complete the task.

Part of the fun had nothing to do with painting.

“It was such a blessing for us,” she said.

The two art teachers enjoyed visiting and having tea with those in the unit.

“The residents would come and hug on us,” Sipe said.

The two teachers also had a blast painting.

They used nontoxic acrylic paint and large mural paintbrushes.

After a bit of experimenting, the two also ended up using their fingers and fists as paintbrushes.

“It gave it a cool textural effect,” Sipe said.

The mural was originally going to be only on the doors, but Sipe thought it best to extend the artwork onto the adjacent walls.

SHARING THE DREAM

Savage’s dream started to become a reality many months ago when he mentioned his vision to Bernadine Craft.

As director of the Sweetwater Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Craft was able to present the idea to the board of directors. They decided it would be a good community project and provided the necessary funding. The Rock Springs Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion also provided money.

Craft asked Sipe to paint the doors. Right away Sipe thought of transferring the outdoor beauty to the doors. She already had several photographs of the area.

The new doors were recently unveiled at a ceremony.

Savage’s mom will not get to enjoy the new doors. She died before the endeavor began, but many current and future patients at Sage View will benefit from the new view.

Plans are underway for the next door project. In January, the two art teachers will begin painting another mural on the other set of doors at the Alzheimer’s unit.

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Information from: Rock Springs (Wyo.) Rocket-Miner, https://www.rocketminer.com

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