The benefits of creativity in ageing

    From reducing stress to improving social lives, creative activity provides many benefits to older people. At Churches of Christ in Queensland, we believe greater emphasis should be placed on productive, successful and meaningful ageing, and art in its various forms can be the perfect conduit to achieving that.

    We have explored how artistic endeavours have many benefits, including improving the health and livelihood of older Australians whilst supporting their essential needs- comfort, identity, occupation, inclusion and attachment - which are embedded in our Positive Wellbeing Model of Care. Some of the benefits include:

    Stress reduction

    Creating art in any form can stimulate spiritual and emotional comfort; reducing stress and alleviating depression and anxiety.

    Dancing can reduce stress through the release of endorphins. A study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has described the benefits of social dance in people living with dementia, “Dancing transforms the attitudes of seniors, both those with and without dementia. They go from focusing on pain, depression, and age-related issues to feeling happy in the present moment, and smiling. And what’s better than that?”

    Visual art can also promote relaxation, with many describing it as a spiritual experience. The expression of emotions and feelings through painting and sculpting is therapeutic for many older people whilst engaging in meaningful occupation.

    Coordination and control

    Working with various visual art materials and paying close attention to details, or learning a musical instrument assist in improving fine motor skills. Dancing can be good for coordination and control. The improvement of fine motor skills and the increased coordination and control can lead to better physical comfort.

    Art classes can be especially beneficial to people living with Parkinson’s disease.

    Identity through creativity

    Using creativity in all sorts of art activities helps many older people find a way of expressing their own identity, and provides a real sense of purpose.

    The Institute of Aging credits the benefits of creative empowerment to different types of self-expression, “The benefits of creative expression are not just limited to visual arts like painting and drawing; engaging in dance, music, and performance has been proven to be helpful for older people, too.”

    Bruce Miller, MD, Behavioural Neurologist at the University of California said creative abilities do not deteriorate as our brains age, art allows for the right and left side of the brain to work cohesively and improves brain health.

    Self-confidence

    Creating art and showing it to proud family and friends boosts the confidence of senior artists. Many who have only begun pursuing artistic endeavours after retirement find their confidence improved after encouragement from their art teachers, family, friends and art peers.

    In an art project undertaken at Kolan Gardens Aged Care Service, Lifestyle Therapist Julia De Silva helped a group of residents create some stunning artworks. "The final product was truly amazing and definitely gave the residents a sense of accomplishment and pride every time they or their loved ones pass by an artwork." said Julia

    Community and socialisation

    New friendships and positive relationships are often formed as seniors join in art or dance classes. Art students connect whilst producing their pieces – encouraging and supporting each other along the way. More physical artistic endeavours such as dancing in a safe secure environment encourages connectedness, companionship and promotes feelings of inclusion and attachment.

    Dr Robert Wilson a researcher for the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Centre in Chicago believes this type of social interaction and participation in group activities will improve health, and can slow down the effects of illness, "Humans are very social creatures. We need healthy interactions with others to maintain our health."

    So if you’re ready to improve your health in a fun, social way, perhaps now is the time to pick up a paint brush, throw on your dancing shoes, or form a weekly craft group.

    Posted November 21, 2017 in Blog