Langley resident works to inspire caregivers

Ivan Neaigus puts the final touches on his painting for the upcoming show “In Transition.”  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Ivan Neaigus puts the final touches on his painting for the upcoming show “In Transition.”
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Ivan Neaigus’ life as a caregiver is an unfinished canvas. Perhaps it will always be so.

His wife, Sarah Letitia Wallace, died in 2012 after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, but the Langley resident is not yet ready to set aside the role.

The Langley resident wants to help caregivers bring the spark back into life for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. He’s developed a program, “Transitional Togetherness,” with friend Talia Toni Marcus that will highlight Wallace’s artwork in a show called “In Transition.”

“Finding that stimulus in their past life, is the important thing,” he said.

Neaigus, a sculptor, watched Wallace shift into a passive state after her diagnosis in 2001. To encourage her to get back in touch with life, he began doing what she loves — creating art. Neaigus reassembled her art room and together they began sketching.

The results were astonishing. Wallace re-engaged with life.

“For Sarah, it was a revival,” he said.

Her first sketch was completed in just two days.

“I grabbed another piece of paper, and on we went,” he said.

Wallace used colored pencils as her medium and completed 45 images. Her last was never finished.

Now, Neaigus hopes to help other caregivers going through a similar experience. His work places an emphasis on the caregiver because the patient is always a given, he said.

“A caregiver is in a different position, a conduit between life and the patient,” he said. “If they have their center together, they can permeate that to the patient.”

Art show

The show begins at 5 p.m. today, Jan. 18 at the Brackenwood Gallery, 302 First St, Langley. Neaigus and Marcus will begin a presentation on the work and information on the disease at 6 p.m. with a second presentation at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. The show runs through Monday, Jan. 27.


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