Tapping Your Inner Artist: The Benefits of Creativity and Expression in Assisted Living
People often believe they’re not artistic, but we actually all have an imaginative side. Its expression is not limited to painting or sculpting but applies to however you see the world. It may not match how you would define being inspired, but there is an artist in each of us.
The great news is that anyone can be creative. It is not something you need to be born with. But tapping into your inner artist can greatly influence your ability to age well.
If you have a parent who lives in assisted living or if your family is considering the benefits a community could provide, you may want to discover the importance creativity plays in their daily life.
The benefits of creativity
Consider some of the following advantages that your parent may enjoy:
- Allows different ways of expression
Words are not the only way to convey meaning. Your parent may be dealing with feelings or emotions that they don’t know how to express. If they’re not able to use words, creative expression can help.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
People often comment that they get lost or lose sense of time when they’re painting or working on an art project. Entering into that type of mindset can have the same benefit as meditation. It’s a great way to relax and re-center.
- It’s a pleasurable activity
Creating is fun and enjoyable. It encourages us to explore deeper feelings or meanings in a different way. But it is also a gratifying experience for most people to spend their time this way.
- Provides a feeling of purpose
Those who spend time working on their art often reflect that it gives them a sense of purpose. It is not only an activity but is one that has meaning. It also helps them make sense of their world by being able to communicate in a different way.
- Allows the individual to feel like part of a group
If your parent joins others in an art class or other creative endeavor, it encourages them to feel less alone and more connected with others. They’ll meet those who share similar life experiences as well as a preference to communicate through art.
- Leads to feelings of accomplishment
Taking a project from the beginning, when it’s only an idea, all the way through completion develops a feeling of accomplishment. Resolving the stops and starts along the way also contributes. And when you’re finished, you have tangible proof of your efforts.
- Contributes to lifelong learning
Those who spend time creating are benefiting their brains the same way as if they were learning a new language and will gain those advantages. We know through research that continuing to learn improves your opportunities to age well.
- Can improve their mood
Not only might your parent notice a greater sense of happiness or joy, being artistic can also reduce the risk of depression, anxiety and stress. They may notice a real change in how they feel about themselves and the world around them.
- Can improve physical health
Creativity has been shown to reduce anxiety and can also strengthen your immune system. Although how this is accomplished isn’t exactly clear, studies have revealed positive results for people who journaled regularly or listened to music.
The Creativity and Aging Study
Developed by The George Washington University along with the National Endowment for the Arts, this study evaluated and measured the impacts of cultural programs on the health of people 65 and older. Areas specifically considered included:
- General health
- Mental health
- Social lives
The intervention group participated in a weekly art program while the control group maintained their usual activities. The results found that those who participated in the art programs reported better health, fewer doctor visits, less medication usage, more positive responses on the mental health measures and were more involved in overall activities.
It was also noted that these results appeared to show a positive impact on maintaining independence and reducing dependency. It may be that creativity could impact and lower the risk factors needed that often result in long-term care.
Creativity and assisted living
Everyone has a story to tell. But we all have a different viewpoint and we may not always express it with words. When adults in assisted living have the chance to participate in artistic activities, they may be sharing a part of their life that they haven’t before.
Art therapy is often offered at assisted living communities and the benefits have been observed as the resident learns and expresses their feelings about the world, others and themselves.
Here are a few advantages that might be beneficial to your loved one:
- Improved cognitive skills
- Improved sensory-motor functions
- Building self-esteem
- Improved self-awareness
- Helping one to become more social
- Lowering anxiety
- Source: American Art Therapy Association
Life at a Northbridge community
We understand and appreciate the benefits of creativity and assisted living. We support art therapy programs and encourage our residents to express themselves creatively. That’s why we created one of our Signature Programs, Artists in Residence.
This opportunity can help spark the creativity in all of our residents. We offer the insights and artistic viewpoints of professional artists to instruct our residents in several mediums, including oil and acrylic painting, watercolor, charcoal, pottery, collage, woodworking and jewelry making.
Your loved one may already have a rich background in the arts but we’re also pleased with how many of our first-time-ever artists decide to jump in.
Here are a few of the benefits we see in our residents who engage in the program:
- Increased socialization
- Opportunities to connect and make new friends
- Activation of all the senses
- Promotion of relaxation
- Inspiring creativity and self-awareness.
Our art program is only one of the many benefits you’ll find at Northbridge. If your loved one could use a helping hand but still wants to live an independent life, we hope you’ll consider one of our assisted living communities.
We’re here to answer any of your questions about our senior living communities. If your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, we also invite you to download our complimentary guide, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Memory Care.