How Can Art Therapy Benefit Elders?
Art is a creative activity that expresses imaginative or technical skills and serves as a form of communication to our thoughts, emotions, and intuitions. Still, some say it is more personal than that. It is possible to ask, “Can art truly be a way to help elders more profoundly, rather than being only a form of entertainment?” Therapeutically experiencing art can give a sense of comfort and purpose to older people’s lives in a supportive ambiance, and it helps them with concentration, psychological problems, motor functions, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s. It can be noted that art therapy is not limited to just elders.
Once people reach the age of 60-70, they lose muscular strength at an approximate rate of 12% every decade. They sometimes feel like they are not as active or engaged in activities like they used to be. This is where art as therapy can come into play and help them. Elders typically feel useless by their inabilities to help others as they used to do, often isolating themselves because they feel as if they have no purpose. Art therapy helps them improve their concentration skills and focus on their activity, whether painting, drawing, or sculpting, and promotes self-esteem and pride in their achievements. It makes them focus on positive emotions and problem solving while at the same time, lowering stress.
Like kids, elders need to work on their fine motor skills since they tend to lose them as they grow older, and art is a way to improve them. Something as simple as arts and crafts can help them keep and/or develop the needed mobility for grasping pencils, writing, and other tasks that would require controlled movements. Engaging in these activities also increases blood flow, which may also improve dexterity. Scientifically noted, art therapy can indeed help adults with arthritis or other joint conditions. Plus, as mentioned earlier, it helps them concentrate on tasks and alleviate any pain they may experience.
It fits to say that you don’t need to wait until you get older to start or try out art activities. It’s best to keep a healthy pace throughout your life, as it can potentially reduce the loss of muscle mass and flexibility.
Caring for an older person with Alzheimer’s is a difficult task to handle for both parties. Even though art is a relaxing way for people of all ages to express themselves and develop their creative and social skills. It is especially incredible for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. It contributes to their development, helps promote and maintain mental health, while also showing an immediate improvement – both cognitive and behavioral. Research shows that the arts can enhance communication, brain function, and social interaction for these patients.
As mentioned, art can be used as a form of therapy, health restoration, and even rehabilitation. For verbal and non- verbal Alzheimer’s and dementia elders, it can spark memories, emotions, speech, movement, smiles, and laughter.
Besides being a way to express ideas, art is a beautiful way to be yourself. However, it is indeed known and scientifically proven that art has a profound way to help people in their daily lives, more so as they grow old. What is essential is the seniors’ health, the ability to create a pleasant environment while getting rid of frustrations or feelings of being overwhelmed. We should consider a wide variety of these activities for our seniors and take it a step further instead of sticking with traditional mediums.