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Oklahoma City Museum of Art reaches out to dementia patients and caregivers

On a day the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is usually closed, dementia patients and caregivers toured the gallery and worked on art projects.
BY SARAH HUSSAIN Modified: June 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm •  Published: June 15, 2013

The Wackerlys are accustomed to a daily routine, so the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's offer of a day out for dementia patients was a nice change of pace.

Johnna and Joe Wackerly, of Edmond, were among guests at “Making Memories.” Johnna Wackerly has had Alzheimer's disease for eight years.

Dementia patients and their caregivers visited the museum on a Monday, when it is normally closed to the public.

They toured the “Herb Ritts: Beauty and Celebrity” exhibition, which includes an image of President Ronald Reagan, who had Alzheimer's disease. They also were invited to do their own art projects.

Joe Wackerly said his wife needs 24-hour supervision and care. But 43 years into their marriage, he would not have it any other way than for him to provide it.

“It's all about those vows you say when you get married,” he said. “She's put up with me for all those years.”

Johnna Wackerly was a dental assistant for 38 years but had to take medical retirement after she found herself forgetting procedures she had done her entire career.

Joe Wackerly said he heard about the museum event and knew they had to attend.

“Opportunities to get out of the house have become very difficult to find,” he said.

The Wackerlys appreciated the photographs of the Reagans in the exhibit.

“I don't think there will ever be another president like Reagan,” Wackerly said. “He was a great man.”

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