Zentangle for Alzheimer’s, dementia patients

Bonnie Pewterbaugh holding the Zentangle she created, inspired by the designs on the placemats.

Bonnie Pewterbaugh holding the Zentangle she created, inspired by the designs on the placemats.

At the annual Alzheimer’s Conference luncheon in November, guests were invited to draw right on their placemats. Wichita artist Bonnie Pewterbaugh created the interactive mats with a design and directions for creating a Zentangle.

Bonnie is a certified teacher of Zentangle, a popular new art form that holds special appeal for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Simpler than it looks, Zentangle uses repetitive patterns to form intricate geometric designs. It is said to promote relaxation, mindfulness and stress relief.

“Even for people who feel they are not creative, once they learn the method, they realize how simple it is,” Bonnie said. “It really brings a great amount of self-satisfaction.”

A chance meeting with Amy Watson, life enrichment director at Wichita Presbyterian Manor, led to Bonnie’s creation of the placemat. Newton Presbyterian Manor and Wichita Presbyterian Manor sponsored the luncheon at the conference, and a mutual friend suggested that Bonnie develop a Zentangle piece for the event. “I hoped it would be used at the table to start conversations,” Bonnie said.

Bonnie comes from a family of artists, but she said her tastes usually ran to arts and crafts. She discovered a Zentangle website about five years ago and ordered a drawing kit. In 2011, she earned her certification and is now one of five certified Zentangle teachers in Kansas.

“I created some pieces and put them in one of the galleries downtown, and they sold,” she said. “I thought, that’s it, I want to share this with people.”