Benefits of Art Therapy for Seniors
Do you have a loved one in your life who could benefit from a creative activity? The benefits of art therapy are tremendous for people of all ages, but especially our senior population. Whether it is a watercolor class, painting, or drawing, your aging loved one can reap the many positive physical and mental benefits of art therapy.
What is Considered Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a way for people to manage physical and mental stress through a creative outlet. It is used for people who suffer from many different ailments, and it can be an enriching activity for the artist. Certified art therapists do work with clients to achieve a physical and mental release; however, many people still find the same positive benefits by engaging in regular art classes. Sometimes the images that are created have a deeper meaning for the artist. Often talking about their creations can be as therapeutic as the act of creating them.
What are some of the Benefits of Art Therapy for Seniors?
Improved Cognitive Ability
As we age, our cognitive skills are not as sharp. Art therapy encourages seniors to learn new painting and drawing techniques and move out of their comfort zone. Creating art causes the brain to adapt. Research shows that creative endeavors cause the brain’s two hemispheres to work more in tandem with one another, thus nurturing an improved cognitive ability.
Improved Motor Skills and May Alleviate Pain
Manipulating paint supplies like a brush will build fine motor skills and strengthen muscles. Seniors can work on coordination that may have weakened over time and also build dexterity. In addition, our aging loved ones often experience pain that goes along with getting older. Chronic pain associated with arthritis, for example, will get those fingers moving and may alleviate some of the pain. Also, engaging in a task like creating artwork will take a person’s mind off the pain and give them another, more positive, thing to focus on.
Provides an Opportunity for Socialization
If your aging loved one can take an art class, it would provide an opportunity for connection and socialization with others. Often, our seniors feel lonely or isolated, especially if they live alone. Taking an art class would be a perfect chance to flex those creative muscles while at the same time making a new friend or two with a shared interest.
Offers a Release from Mental Stress
Art, in any form, is good for the soul. Participating in the creation of something can bring about a change in mood and offer a release from mental stress for people of all ages. Many of our seniors struggle with loneliness, depression, and lower self-esteem. Some are suffering from vision and hearing loss that is causing them stress and frustration. Encouraging seniors to find an outlet like art to put their energy and focus into will boost their mental state. Nurturing a piece of artwork from start to finish can provide such a feeling of accomplishment and purpose to a senior struggling with mental stress.
Memory loss can be one of the most challenging parts of getting older. It is difficult for the once vibrant person to know that their memory is slipping. It is also challenging to watch your loved one struggle with memory loss. Some seniors see art creation as a time to focus on something positive and provide glimpses of clarity that they may be missing. Studies have shown that painting and listening to music can help those suffering from memory loss. It gives them a chance to rediscover the past and time spent with loved ones.
Due to the physical and mental deterioration that comes with aging, some seniors may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally as they were once able to. Art offers a beautiful opportunity for non-verbal self-expression! Aging seniors find a purpose and an outlet that they didn’t realize they could tap into. Art can help a person work through grief, for example, and discover a way of communicating feelings that may be bubbling up to the surface as they age.
If you think your aging loved one can benefit from art therapy, look at what may be offered locally. Often art classes are hosted at a community center or perhaps a local art studio. If your loved one cannot attend a course away from home, look into hiring an art therapist to come to them. An art therapist can bring all of the supplies with them to create a fulfilling session in the comfort of their own home.
The next time you are visiting with your aging loved one, inquire if an art class may be something he or she may enjoy. Perhaps you can even take a class together and spend some quality time as a pair creating something incredible. Time together would also give you the chance to check in on your special senior. Often, we get clues as to how their physical and mental health is faring through everyday conversations. Is he having trouble maneuvering around his home? Was Mom able to keep up with the conversation, or did she struggle? You might notice small changes that could be indicators of greater issues they are facing as they age.
An in-home caregiver can assist with many of these concerns or offer much-needed companionship. Life can be busy. When you can’t be there to check in on your loved one, it feels good to know that someone else is.
Caregivers United helps support your aging parent or special relative by bringing quality care to your loved one at their home. Call (941) 225-0055 to schedule a free in-home consultation or find us on Facebook and Twitter!