Art therapy for the elderly has been the subject of much interest in recent years. This is because of its apparent effect on the mental well-being of older adults, especially those with dementia. In fact, a study on Montreal seniors was recently published, and the results may surprise you. Read below to see how this emerging method of rehabilitation can be beneficial to your older loved ones.
What is Art Therapy?
The goal of art therapy is to stimulate the body and mind alike through, as the name implies, artistic methods. It’s commonly used for seniors who have trauma, or illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. The use of art allows for an alternative method of communication for the elderly, especially when verbal speech is limited. Art is a more visual and sensory way for seniors to express themselves, and can help them lower stress, combat depression, feel a higher sense of well-being, and connect with memories they may otherwise have forgotten.
Art therapy can encompass many different mediums, such as painting, drawing, dancing, photography, scrap-booking, etc.
What are the Benefits of Art Therapy for Seniors?
The previously mentioned study, which took place at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, noted a higher quality of life for seniors participating in art therapy. Some positive effects of art therapy may include:
- Reducing stress, confusion, and lowering the risk of depression;
- Coping with traumatic memories through artistic expression;
- Increasing cognitive function, and triggering previously forgotten memories;
- A decrease in frailty and an increase in physical ability (creating art helps promote coordination, also decreases pain from diseases such as Arthritis)
- Promoting a sense of accomplishment for seniors by creating something themselves;
- Helping a senior learn to effectively use their hands when dealing with pain, through art projects such as knitting, painting, and drawing;
- Promoting communication: elderly persons who have difficulty expressing themselves through verbal or written language may find art useful for connecting with loved ones, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness;
- Certain types of art may remind the elderly of their younger years;
- Restoring many mental and physical functions, while providing a general sense of well-being.
The Proper Steps
If you think art therapy may be helpful for your senior loved one, consider the following steps for implementing it into your elderly care plan. Discuss these with a senior caregiver to get the most out of the process:
- Do not use materials that are toxic if ingested;
- Start the senior off with something easy, such as drawing a picture with markers;
- Talk to them throughout the process, encouraging them to continue, and complimenting their work;
- Use materials that are vividly coloured;
- Whether drawing, painting, or otherwise, ask them to use something from their youth as their subject, such as a memory of a childhood home;
- Once the piece is complete, place it somewhere they can see it, ensuring the benefit of self-satisfaction with their accomplishment.
Of course, art therapy is not only for seniors. However, it is especially helpful for older people living with diseases like dementia, or physical limitations such as arthritis. Seniors living alone are particularly vulnerable to depression brought on by solitude and a loss of independence, and while art therapy is a good remedy, the best way to combat elderly depression is through companionship.
If you have an elderly loved one who lives alone or needs home care assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact Complete Care Coordination today for a free consultation. We have experienced, qualified caregivers ready to assist with your senior care needs.