Benefits of Art Therapy for Seniors Living in Retirement Communities
Published on February 19, 2021
Art therapy is incredibly beneficial for people of all ages and capabilities, especially seniors living with dementia in retirement communities. It provides excellent mental stimulation and is a great way for seniors to spend time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, it’s a chance for seniors to showcase their creativity and a variety of visual skills, while also providing a form of escapism and helping them improve their motor abilities.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy can be used to treat a number of different physical and mental conditions. It’s especially beneficial to seniors living with dementia, arthritis, and/or chronic pain. Art therapy can consist of a variety of visual, written, and spoken word components that allow seniors to express their emotions and thoughts openly through a healthy mechanism.
The art of creation and self-expression allows seniors who are suffering from some form of mental or physical trauma to alleviate stress and anxiety as well as manage depression and physical pain. Art creates a sense of unity and can even help seniors recall happy memories from their past, which uplifts their moods.
Effective Ways to Implement Art Therapy for Seniors
The great thing about art therapy is it’s a relaxing pastime that seniors can enjoy with other Community Members, friends, and family. It doesn’t have to be limited to the people who are physically surrounding them, either. In light of the COVID-19 restrictions, you can join in on the fun with your loved one via a virtual video call any time you want.
Here are a few tips on how you can successfully introduce the notion of art therapy to your senior loved one and ensure they benefit from this technique.
Make sure that only non-toxic materials are being used. Check the labels of all of the art supplies before providing them.
Start with a simple project will be easy to complete. Whether it’s colour by numbers or drawing a simple picture of something that’s meaningful to them, this is a great way to encourage and maintain engagement.
Guide them through the process with detailed instructions as needed and give them positive reinforcement for their work.
To help with sensory memory and recollection, incorporate the use of bright colours as well as different textures, patterns, and objects that are positively related to their past.
Place their artwork somewhere where they can see it on a daily basis. This will help establish a strong sense of accomplishment and positive associations. You can even ask them to send you a copy of their artwork and make sure it’s visibly displayed in the background when you do a video chat.
Tools for Therapeutic Art Programs at Retirement Communities
Right now, many retirement communities are concentrating on reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean that certain community activities such as art therapy and physical exercise should fall to the wayside.
There are many important benefits associated with art therapy activities that focus just as much on mental health as they do on physical health.
Retirement communities are currently using the following tools to sustain their therapeutic art programs:
Acrylic and water colour paint sets
Crayons and pencil crayons
Colourful construction paper
Materials for basket weaving
Sewing and crocheting materials
Art therapy comes in many shapes and forms. It can be visually stimulating or even movement based depending on the specific needs and interests of your elderly loved one.
Seniors with limited mobility or dexterity may find it a little harder to complete certain physical tasks than those with full mobility. For that reason, it’s important to provide a wide range of art therapy classes or activities that can be modified to accommodate different skill levels and capabilities, so that everyone who wants to participate feels included and valued.
How Art Therapy Can Help Improve Quality of Life for Seniors Living in Retirement Homes in Ontario
Regardless of skill level, there’s something fulfilling about creating art. Knowing that you brought a little extra beauty and a unique point of view into the world can be uplifting. This is especially true for seniors. Creating beautiful art that makes them feel good about themselves can help restore their feelings of self-worth and improve their overall quality of life.
Personal emotions aside, the physical components of art therapy—whether it’s light dancing, painting, or photography—can also have a tremendously positive impact on mental stimulation and combatting feelings of loneliness or depression that are often associated with certain illnesses.
Here are some worthwhile benefits of introducing your elderly loved one to art therapy:
Mental and physical stimulation
Enhancement in brain function
Building socialization and communication skills
Provides an outlet for self-expression and awareness
Participating in one-on-one or group art therapy encourages seniors to actively engage with their surroundings and learn to pay attention to, appreciate, and find joy in the little things in life. This change of perspective serves to boost gratitude and other positive feelings that can have a lasting impact on the mental and physical well-being of your elderly loved one.
Art Therapy Programs at V!VA Retirement Communities
At V!VA Retirement Communities, we strongly encourage our Community Members to embrace their creativity. We offer a number of mentally and physically stimulating art programs that allow seniors throughout Ontario to engage in meaningful activities that they can enjoy alone or as part of a social community in physically distanced ways. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get your loved one involved in one of our many art therapy programs.