As we get older, finding activities that continue to stimulate our mind, and improve our mental, social, and physical health is crucial. Art therapy is an activity that has been thoroughly researched and connected to better physical health outcomes, less use of medication, reduced falls, lower rates of depression and loneliness, as well as higher morale, and improved hand dexterity. With so many benefits, it’s something that you should consider if you’re a senior.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy refers to a creative form of therapy that improves mental, physical, social, and emotional health and wellbeing. This can be through painting, drawing, sculpture, scrapbooking, colouring, puzzles, games, photography, or other visual art expressions. The process involves having a professional art therapist who is trained in art and therapy, to increase the patient’s self-awareness, reduce stress and trauma, and boost cognitive abilities.
Do you need creative skills to do art therapy?
To participate in art therapy, you don’t need any artistic experience. The goal of art therapy isn’t to create something beautiful, it’s to express yourself, and improve your overall well-being.
Who is art therapy recommended for?
Art therapy is recommended for elderly people who are experiencing severe stress, depression, loneliness, or anxiety. It can offer additional benefits of helping physical and social health.
What are the benefits of art therapy for the elderly?
There are numerous benefits to partaking in art therapy, for mental, physical, and social health. Here are the main advantages of undertaking this activity:
Participating in art therapy can help to minimise stress for anyone, but it’s especially beneficial for seniors who can be prone to negative thoughts about aging. For those in the early stages of memory loss, it can also be a stressful and anxious experience. Making art can put you ‘in the zone’ and be almost meditative.
As we get older, the health implications that come with age – such as mobility problems and memory loss – can cause depression. Taking part in art therapy can stimulate your mind and mood, helping to reduce depressive feelings. It is especially great for seniors who have problems with verbal communication.
Improved communication and socialisation
Art therapy doesn’t have to be done alone: it can be run in group sessions, and this might actually be more effective and beneficial for seniors’ social wellbeing. With older age, it can sometimes be more difficult to maintain friendships and relationships so senior citizens can be prone to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Participating in group therapy can provide the social connection that they desire and give a visual means of communication for those who find it hard to express and communicate verbally.
Aiding chronic conditions
When you get older, you can be more susceptible to conditions like arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke. Dealing with this can be difficult for many, and art therapy offers relief and distraction from these conditions.
Creating art can help those with memory loss. It can activate the parts of the brain that are least impaired and can help older people more easily access memories. Keeping the brain active in old age can make a significant difference in maintaining memory and cognitive abilities.
Better brain functioning
With age, our brains are not what they used to be. A senior’s ability to problem solve, use logic and reasoning, maintain focus, and remember things can be worse than before. Especially with older adults who have dementia, it can get hard to remain independent and carry out all the tasks that you’re used to.
Undertaking art therapy can actually help seniors to think differently by engaging the brain and body in ways that they aren’t often used.
If you think you could benefit from art therapy, you should sign up for a session or undertake another art hobby that could provide similar benefits for your health. Dealing with age and the health conditions that come with it can be overwhelming for anyone, and it’s beneficial to have a way to maintain regular functioning and develop a healthy coping mechanism.