Cover Stories

Artistic Voice: McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care

McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care understands that getting older doesn’t have to mean slowing down. For more than 30 years, the senior community has been known for expert care, high-quality amenities and personalized service. Residents can choose from a wide variety of activities each month, including outings to local hot spots like Busch Stadium, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the zoo. Or they can enjoy entertainment right at home, like movies, live music, happy hours and trivia nights. There is something to engage every interest, and the creatively inclined can find inspiration in the community’s extensive art program.

Hour-long classes are offered Monday through Friday in the art studio. “It’s spacious and includes a beautiful greenhouse with ample natural light for residents to explore the creative process,” says art instructor Katherine McAtee. Lessons for the memory care wing are held Tuesday through Friday in an activity room. The artwork created in both classes is displayed to honor each artist. McAtee, who has a master’s degree in art education from Fontbonne University, also offers private sessions. “The focus during these can be on specific needs and interests,” she notes. “All classes serve as an outlet for residents to express themselves nonverbally while developing self-esteem and sensorimotor and cognitive functions.”

The art program focuses on a variety of creative processes, including printmaking, bookbinding, tapestry weaving, gyotaku (a traditional Japanese method of printing fish) and stained glass. “My intention is to encourage residents to explore using various media,” McAtee notes. “I want the focus to be on the art-making process rather than the end product.” She explains that art allows residents to reflect on past and present experiences, which can be especially impactful for those in memory care. “They are given a visual means of expression that enhances their self-awareness and promotes a sense of accomplishment,” she says.

McAtee was drawn to McKnight Place because of the opportunity to develop relationships with residents. “Knowing them as individuals makes the experience more meaningful for everyone,” she explains. “I can bring their interests into the lessons to inspire their creativity.” She recalls one resident who made a triptych painting of Lake Michigan. The piece used three different types of paint, and McAtee was able to teach artistic concepts and techniques while learning about the woman’s life. “Her family had a cottage on the lake and spent summers there, so it was a very important place to her,” McActee says. “We built a relationship by creating art together.”

Residents also form relationships with one another through the program. Peggy Keyes began attending lessons because of her love of art but quickly found several unexpected benefits. She enjoys the many friendships she has made, and the classes even provide a unique way for her to connect with her family. “I have created many pieces that I have given to my children and grandchildren,” Keyes says. “It’s been special.” And McAtee says residents’ families are welcome to join activities any time. “There has been a lot of positive feedback from families about their loved ones’ art, and it ignites great conversations,” she notes.

For McAtee, the best part of each class is seeing residents enjoy the freedom of creative expression. “I am fulfilled when they unleash their potential and explore new talents,” she says. “They get to discover, experiment and think originally as artists.”

McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care offers opportunities for active seniors and comprehensive, compassionate residential services. Pictured on the cover: Art instructor Katherine McAtee, Resident Peggy Keyes. For more information, call  314.993.3333 or visit mcknightplace.com.
Cover courtesy of McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care

Pictured at top: Katherine McAtee works with a resident on a project in the McKnight Place courtyard.
Photo courtesy of McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care

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