Painting and sculpture may seem like nothing more than enjoyable hobbies to help pass time, but for many senior citizens facing memory loss, stress and chronic pain, art therapy can be the key to better mental and physical health. The use of artistic activities in a therapeutic setting can help promote mental clarity and physical dexterity in a way that is fun and accessible for older adults. In particular, creative pursuits can help improve memory, reduce stress and alleviate pain.
Improvements in Memory
Participating in regular activities that require concentration and focus has been shown to aid seniors dealing with memory loss. In particular, artistic pursuits such as sculpture and painting can provide a challenge to those facing memory impairments and help promote critical cognitive skills. Moreover, participants in Chicago's Bringing Art to Life program were able to recover connections to their former lives and passions through creative pursuits, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Even seniors facing advanced or severe memory loss can benefit from art therapy. As noted by the Art Therapy Institute, those with Alzheimer's or developed dementia are often able to produce art from memory about beloved places or loved ones from the past, helping to break down the barriers that advanced memory loss can erect.
Seniors in the beginning stages of memory impairment often face significant stress and emotional turmoil as their condition becomes apparent. Aside from any benefits that art therapy can provide in the direct treatment of dementia, engaging in creative activities can help seniors facing memory loss calm their anxiety and work through other negative emotions.
Artistic pursuits can also help promote positive self-esteem and increase confidence, according to Today's Geriatric Medicine. Furthermore, group art therapy can provide seniors with the chance to socialize with their peers, which can help stimulate positive feelings and experiences that can help reduce stress. Even for seniors not facing memory loss, the effects of art therapy on mood and stress can be incredibly beneficial.
Many seniors face a variety of conditions that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and hypertension.Because stress can exacerbate these conditions, art therapy can help provide relief to many chronic pain sufferers through its ability to promote a positive mood.
In addition, creative activities have the capacity to directly alleviate many disorders that cause chronic pain. Art therapy done regularly promotes the use of the hands, fingers and arms, and this gentle physical activity can help reduce the stiffness and inflammation caused by conditions like arthritis.
Moreover, the Mayo Clinic notes that even seniors facing serious conditions often find the relaxation provided by art therapy to be incredibly helpful in pain management and the handling of physical.