Art therapy can be very beneficial for older adults living with memory loss, as well as those who need to manage stress or pain. Art therapy includes the use of painting and other activities to help keep the mind sharp and promote dexterity. It is most beneficial when used in a setting that is fun, casual, and social. Art can become a cherished hobby, and each session can be an opportunity to reap the rewards of this much overlooked form of therapy.
Regular, focused activities can greatly benefit those living with memory loss. Painting, sculpting and similar pursuits are a way to challenge the mind and promote cognitive abilities. Some individuals may even find that the act of being creative can serve to uncover connections and passions about the world that can otherwise be clouded by memory loss. For individuals living with more advanced memory loss, these sorts of activities can be a way to communicate and offer seniors an opportunity to be expressive. In some instances, the perceived barriers created by Alzheimer’s or dementia can be overcome, and an older adult may paint something from memory about a loved one or favorite place. Individuals who participate in art therapy may have incredible moments of clarity while involved in the activity.
The pressure of the early stages of memory loss can be very stressful and emotional. Not only is art therapy a great way to combat dementia, but it also represents an opportunity to work through anxiety and negative feelings. The calming nature of painting, writing or other creative pursuits is a way to forget about larger stresses and promote healthy, happy feelings. Not only does it help reduce stress, but it may also boost self-esteem and confidence. Likewise, it can be an opportunity to socialize and may elevate a person’s level of playfulness and stimulate their sense of humor.
Hypertension, arthritis, and other disorders can cause chronic pain, and these may be exacerbated by emotional pain and other ailments. Not only can the naturally relaxing nature of art therapy reduce these issues, but also it can reduce physical inflammation and stiffness. Regular art therapy engages the fingers, hands, and arms. This light but consistent physical activity can promote better blood flow and dexterity. With time, seniors who begin writing, painting or sketching may feel more nimble and experience less pain.
For anyone living with more serious arthritis or other issues, art therapy won’t stop chronic pain. However, relaxation therapy of any kind, including art therapy, can be a way of controlling and managing discomfort. This is especially true when done in conjuncture with other exercises or prescribed medications.
Overall, art therapy can be a rewarding experience, even for individuals who aren’t living with memory loss. The same calming effects can have a positive impact on other older adults living with stress, and a new, creative outlet can unlock hidden passions.