Art programs and creativity can aid with healthy aging


Diseases like Dementia or Alzheimer are known to be mental disorders that mostly affects the elderly adults 50+. Those suffering from this conditions tent to lose psychological functioning like thinking, remembering, and reasoning. These types of disorder change the person’s behavior, and they can’t any longer control their emotions. Although any mental sickness like dementia or Alzheimer cannot be cured, and even though there is not any treatment that slows or stops their progression, research has shown that any elderly adult suffering from such condition engaged in any art activity, can be therapeutic and beneficial for them to keep focus.

Tims-Artclass
Elderly adults who attend an art class at The Life Enrichment Center are engaged in their paintings.

A documentary titled I remember better when I paint, is a documentary that focuses on how creative arts is therapeutic for people with dementia. The documentary promotes elderly adults with dementia when involved in any art related activity brings them back into a more active communication.

In general, art engagement is healthy for the mental wellbeing and either playing a musical instrument, painting, or writing; art creativity has some significant benefits, it can enhance one’s moods, emotions, and other psychological states. A person can rely on any art activity or art engagement as a therapy to help train the memory and help improve their quality of life. Studies and data have shown that a patient who is in an inactive position and become engaged in any art activity or brought into a creative environment, can help them open-up and connect back to society. It also helps the patients to express and share their feelings through any artistic medium of communication. Also, it has been confirmed that when a person with any mental disorder is involved in arts and craft related activities such as the use of colors and textures, it helps stimulate their senses.

Lady-Pink
An art student is enjoying painting as she is listening to music.

Based on a study provided by The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that when a senior retires many don’t know what to do with their free time and as a result of living alone or due to lack of close family ties, they face isolation, depression, and loneliness. By an elderly engage in any art program after retirement, it can help to build strong relationships with others and leads to a better quality of life.

Marty Kledzik, 73. Takes art classes now after retirement in a local Tampa center and he explains how being engaged in an art program helps him stay active.

“You never under sale the social aspects of The Life Enrichment Center. Working on something unique is a great opportunity for seniors and for adults to keep active, keep your minds going, and make good friends,” he said. “I know so many people who are so long retired that just sit and watch Television and to me, that’s not retirement. For me, retirement is an opportunity for you to do the things that you want to do. Since I retired, painting is one of the things that I wanted to do,” said Kledzik.

For many years now, a significant amount of studies has been completed concerning art engagement and creativity being beneficial for healthy aging. A survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with an agreement with the George Washington University stands out among others. This study made in 2001 recorded data from two groups of seniors, a group of individuals were involved in a weekly participatory art program, and the other group of individuals was just engaged in regular, usual activities. Two years after the assessment, data accumulated showed that those elderly who were involved in the art program group as compared to the other group not involved in any art activities, had better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage. Also, the recorded data showed that those individuals engaged in art had more positive responses in the mental health measures, and with more involvement in overall activities.

For more information about dementia NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center call 1-800-438-4380 (toll-free), email adear@nia.nih.gov, or visit www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers.

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