For some people, creating artwork is a full time job and lifelong dream they’ve worked hard to fulfill. For others, art is simply a hobby they enjoy doing from time to time. Using paint, clay, pencils, etc., is a way to express themselves and create something from nothing, a satisfying experience to see through from start to finish.
Regardless of the motivation behind creating artwork, art also has long been known to have therapeutic benefits, and can be especially beneficial to older individuals. Recent studies have shown that seniors who participate in art programs tend to visit the doctor and use medications less, as well as experience less depression.
Art as Therapy
The benefits of art as therapy for seniors are numerous and help improve overall quality of life. Some of the ways art as therapy can benefit older individuals include:
- Promoting self-awareness and self-expression. Expressing oneself through art is a powerful, meaningful way to share our lives with others. Art also can help the memory-impaired access long-forgotten memories and increase self-esteem.
- Facilitating socialization and communication. Those who have difficulty expressing themselves or communicating with others find using visual means to be extremely helpful. Art provides another way to connect with those around you, which can help lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Improving cognitive skills and providing intellectual stimulation. Discussing art creations with others offers not only a way to communicate, but also intellectual stimulation and promotes memory health. Challenging aging individuals to create art allows them to expand their minds and look at things in a way they might not normally consider.
- Reducing boredom. Art is a recreational activity and offers a fun and fulfilling way to spend free time.
- Improving physical/motor skills. Creating artwork helps benefit coordination through small, purposeful movements, leading to less pain and even an enhanced immune system.
- Decreasing stress and depression. Tapping into the emotions needed to create artwork allows for open expression of feelings, helping to relieve stress, anxiety and confusion.
Certified art therapists are specially educated on all the ways to use art to improve quality of life for certain individuals. They will create programs using many different mediums to allow their patients the therapy they need. Utilizing things like paints, pens or markers, collage, watercolors or even clay for sculpture and flower arranging are all ways for seniors to express themselves through art. While not every art session will conjure a dramatic memory or involve an emotional breakthrough, it will still provide a fun and interesting way for seniors to relax and express themselves.
It’s never too late to start expressing yourself through artwork creations. Grab a paintbrush or even your grandchildren’s crayons and get creative! You might be surprised to find how much your spirits are lifted after you finish a special art project.