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5 Perks of Art Therapy for Aging Adults

Older man concentrating on painting.

Cognitive, vocational, speech and relational therapy may sound familiar and are widely used today to help benefit the overall mental well-being of a person, but have you heard of art therapy? Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy used by people of all ages and encourages free self-expression through painting, drawing, sculpting and many other artistic outlets. The British artist Adrian Hill coined the term art therapy in 1942 after he discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting. There are several benefits art has for an aging mind which you will learn in this article.

It can encourage creative thinking…

The basis of art is creation. Art has the ability to enhance problem-solving skills and unlike in math, there is never a wrong answer. Creative thinking allows you to solve problems and come up with unique solutions which will in turn create new neural pathways within the brain. Neural pathways are vital to a healthy, functioning brain and strong cognitive health.

It can relieve stress…

Art is a beautiful way to temporarily release from undesired stressful thoughts. The process of creating helps distract the mind from its everyday reality and requires the mind to think and focus on the present item in front of it – that being art. Activities such as drawing, sculpting, dancing, sewing, painting and music are all rewarding hobbies that can help lower cortisol levels in the body and keep your mind calm and at ease.

It can ease the burden of chronic health conditions…

Thousands of older adults are diagnosed annually with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, which may be accompanied by depression and unwanted anxious thoughts. Art has been known to help people confidently maintain their identities by creating art pieces unique to their own personality and rather than focusing on the chronic disease at hand, older adults that partake in art therapy can rediscover themselves through an artistic outlet.

It can promote cognitive health and brain plasticity…

While you travel down the road of new creation, the brain works hard to meet your creative needs through your current motor skills. Do you notice the more you practice a task, such as making a pot, painting or knitting, you can get better at it as the days go on? You can thank your motor cortex for the evolution of your motor skills. Practicing art can aid in the promotion of cognitive health and brain plasticity by creating new neural pathways through the brain while you slowly develop your motor skills.

Finally, it can promote self-expression and higher self-esteem…

It is common for older adults to lose self-esteem but that doesn’t mean they can’t rebuild what once was there. Art is a great form of self-expression which can ultimately lead to the promotion of higher self-esteem. Once an art piece is completed and the artist is satisfied, it can flood the brain with a sense of accomplishment and can increase the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine is helpful in increasing drive, focus and concentration and enabling you to plan ahead and resist impulses. Self-expression is important for anyone at any age and keeps us true to ourselves. Art allows the self-expression of ideas we find most important to us whether it be joy, grief, excitement and so forth. You can never be wrong when creating art.

There are many opportunities in the community to enjoy yourself through the outlet of art. Check in with senior centers and discover what art classes are available, grab a friend or two and head over to a painting with wine night at a studio or simply run to a craft store and pick up what seems most interesting to you. There are also incredible adult coloring books available online or at some local bookstores which you can complete at your own leisure and will probably find calming! Art is out there, just take a look around!


Discover more senior lifestyle articles: here! Or, indulge in our healthy recipes: here!


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