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.”
Amanda Harmer, the museum's education and community outreach coordinator, said the next event for dementia patients is set for Oct. 14.
Wackerly said he would bring his wife again.
“As long as she's able, I'd love to bring her,” Wackerly said. “It's a needed respite.”
Engaging the brain
Harmer said people with dementia often feel isolated, as do their caregivers.
“Talking about art can help with communication and engage the brain,” Harmer said.
“Studies show it can help improve mood, and it is a great opportunity to socialize with people going through similar experiences.”
Carla Scull, Touchmark life enrichment director, brought three residents from the memory care center.
“They do such a good job here, taking such good care of them,” Scull said.
Scull said it makes their day special and it gives them something to do.
The art project Harmer chose for participants involved recreating some of Ritts' photographs.
Emily Gardner, who has an art background, enjoyed sipping lemonade while working on her project.
Peggy Morrison fancied Ritts' photo of Matthew McConaughey and gladly chose to work on a project featuring the actor's image.
After a couple of accidents involving spilled ink, she enthusiastically held up her piece of finished art, grinning and blushing.
To learn more
For more information about upcoming events at the museum, go to www.