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How Art Therapy Benefits Seniors

January 2, 2019 | Blog

The decline in memory or other thinking skills can be treated with art therapy. This therapeutic program can encompass many activities such as: drawing, painting or making collages, which can offer opportunities for seniors to engage with other people about their interests. You do not need any skills or confidence to do art therapy. There is no wrong way to make art; it is all about being creative. Participating in art therapy allows seniors to express their feelings and experiences. Art therapy is proof that something as simple as putting a paint brush to a canvas or a pen to a piece of paper can yield life-altering results for senior citizens. Here are some ways art therapy can benefit seniors:

Improve Memory:

It can be difficult to accommodate seniors with dementia, an illness that makes one significantly mentally impaired. The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “An overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.” Art therapy can be a great way to treat dementia. This therapeutic activity can stimulate the brain and spark old memories as well as help substitute language for those who have difficulty speaking. Consider carving out some time during the day to create any form of art to boost brain functionally.


Release Emotion:

People of all ages can benefit from art therapy, especially seniors. It gives them an outlet to express themselves through creating art. These activities encourage critical thinking and offer a sense of fulfillment. Art therapy can be extremely beneficial to seniors with dementia that has affected the left side of their brain. In an article published by AARP, Bruce L. Miller, M.D., the Director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, made a statement about how art therapy can benefit dementia patients, “When dementia is localized to the left side of the brain, Miller says, patients experience progressive loss of language, ‘but tremendous visual creativity can emerge — sometimes painting or sculpture, or occasionally they become obsessed with their gardens. It’s beautiful and sad.’ As the brain continues to degenerate over time, he says, newfound artistic ability reaches a peak and then diminishes.” Art therapy gives senior citizens the opportunity to access thoughts and feelings that they may have locked away deep within themselves. Allowing seniors the opportunity to express those feelings in a healthy way is one of the most important benefits of art therapy.

Increases socialization:

The environment of an art therapy program enables self-growth while providing a safe and facilitating surrounding. Art therapy helps seniors connect with others and engage in conversations that they normally wouldn’t have. Certain issues that cause significant emotional turmoil tend to lend themselves better to artistic expression than verbal expression. The benefits of art therapy are simple in that, often times, seniors aren’t even fully aware of just how much they are gaining from creating something artistic.


At Spring Hills Senior Communities, our art therapy programs are apart of our holistic approach to senior living. We focus on enhancing both the mind and body which are invaluable to senior citizens. Our Director of Program Development & Training, Rachel Helfand, notes that, “All of our residents are provided with success oriented activities based on their abilities and interests. This allows them to express their feelings through the stroke of a paint brush. By incorporating these therapeutic activities we are able to build a deeper connection with our residents. ” Art therapy proves that expression comes in all different shape and sizes, and all of them are valuable in their own way.

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