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Therapies Benefiting the Mind, Body and Spirit

March 30, 2021 | Blog

Spring Hills continues to support our residents in any way we can. Therapy does not come in just one form there are tons of different ways to improve your mental, physical and spiritual health. At Spring Hills we offer therapies such as Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Pet Therapy, and Horticultural Therapy. Here are some of the benefits of each therapy for our seniors. 

Art Therapy 

Art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve mental health and well-being. Some techniques can include drawing, painting, coloring, sculpting, collaging, and more. Depression is very common in older adults. Incorporating an Art Therapy program is important to help ease feelings of anxiety and depression and help intrigue the mind, engage the body and lift peoples spirits. 

Why Art Therapy is beneficial for seniors:

It creates a gateway for self-discovery

Artistic expression leads to the acknowledgement of feelings and ideas that seniors may have not even known they had. According to Resources to Recover, “Creating art can help you acknowledge and recognize feelings that have been lurking in your subconscious.” Art therapy can have a huge benefit on the mental health of seniors because it helps provide them with a method to express these subconscious feelings in a productive way.

It offers a sense of accomplishment

One of the best ways to help individuals struggling with feelings of depression is by providing them with a sense of accomplishment. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is to provide art therapy for seniors. BeBrainFit notes that art therapy “relieves burdensome stress… and provides a sense of accomplishment.” A sense of accomplishment can go a long way in relieving feelings of depression and anxiety and art therapy can help provide that while distracting seniors from negative feelings during this difficult time of the year.

It enriches the soul

Art therapy and artistic expression, in general, is good for the soul. Many people can benefit from this healing property of art therapy, especially during the holiday season and over the cold winter months. Creating an art piece from scratch has a variety of therapeutic elements especially for older adults. GoodTherapy even goes so far as to refer to art therapy as a “self-portrait for the soul.” 

It provides a variety of good mental health practices

Holidays can trigger toxic habits for mental health such as focusing on how quickly time has passed or all the people may have been lost over the years.  This is especially true for seniors. Art therapy can help provide some healthy habits for mental wellness. VeryWellMind notes that, “Art, either the process of creating it or viewing others artworks, is used to help people explore their emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills.”

Our art therapy programs are a part 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 shapes and sizes, and all of them are valuable in their own way.

Music Therapy

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program The benefits of listening to music are well documented in studies, showing clear advantages to an individual’s mental and emotional health. From infant development to senior care, music can evoke emotional responses to stimulate the mind and heal the body. Music Therapy can have positive effects on people with various health issues including depression, dementia, sleep and stress.

Why music therapy is beneficial for seniors:

Mental benefits 

Music Therapy can be a really effective way of depression treatment. The use of music therapy is seen as one of the most beneficial to people with depression when combined with other depression treatments such as antidepressants. Some elderly people experience agitation and emotional stress, especially when they feel like they are losing their mental faculties. Playing soothing music has calming effects, helping to improve emotional health. Music can encourage social interaction as well, especially if played in groups. 

Social and communication benefits 

Maintaining social contact with others can be extremely important for seniors, especially if they suffer from depression. Interacting with caregivers and other residents can encourage bonding with others which can help lift spirits and reduce the feeling of loneliness. Music Therapy can also help with communication. Our caregivers have noticed that even when someone is no longer able to speak, they still recognize songs from their past, and even sing or hum along.

Physical Benefits

Musical Therapy can also be physically beneficial. It can lower blood pressure, improve respiration, reduce heart rate, relax the muscles, and improve cardiac output. The rhythm of music can help physical coordination when walking or exercising. You can help elderly loved ones develop more endurance and increase their mobility, even if it’s just toe tapping or clapping along.

At Spring Hills, we make sure that our seniors’ days are filled with joy and music, because to us, health care is not just physical; it is mental and emotional as well. We’ve organized sing-alongs and hosted special musical events. Some of our classes even have mood music playing in the background so they can sit back, relax and experience the benefits of music therapy.

Pet Therapy 

It is no secret that there are many benefits to interacting with pets like: dogs, cats, birds and robotic simulating animals. Our furry friends are a part of the family and have therapeutic attributes that can improve the health and quality of life for you or your loved ones. Pet therapy is the interaction between a person and a trained animal. We all experience the calm sensation we get when petting man’s best friend. Bonding with a friendly pet can help with a variety of physical and mental issues. Studies indicate that those who spend regular time with pets often have lower blood pressure and triglyceride counts. Pet therapy has been utilized in places like senior facilities to promote healthy living, healing, mental health, stability and more. Pet therapy has been scientifically proven to be extremely effective. Studies have shown being around pets releases endorphins and provides a calming effect that people of all ages long for. Here are some additional reasons why pet therapy is beneficial for seniors. 

Why Pet Therapy is beneficial for seniors:

Increases social interaction 

Pet Therapy for individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia have shown positive results, especially when dogs are present. A study conducted at the Veterans Hospital presented, “Residents had more verbal interactions with each other when a dog was present in the room than when there was no dog present.” Additionally for people with dementia pet therapy can be soothing for those that have trouble speaking. Pets can also be a great way to start up conversations and can bridge the gap between people of all ages. According to Harvard Health Publishing “Pets may also indirectly improve health by fostering social connections, which are good for long-term health. An analysis of 148 studies on the topic found that people who have solid social networks are 50% more likely to live longer than those with limited social networks. In today’s go-it-alone world, many people have trouble making connections.”

Exercise Partner   

Exercising not only assists seniors who are recovering from an injury or illness, but can also prevent several chronic diseases from arising. Physical activity can improve appetite, sleep and mood, helps maintain weight, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. Those who own dogs usually have to make time each day to walk them, which not only encourages physical activity but also provides the benefits of exercising. The physical benefits also include diminishing overall physical pain, releases hormones such as Phenylethylamine, which makes you more relaxed, and slows down things like breathing if you experience anxiety. In a NCBI study, “Dog owners in Canada were more likely to visit multiuse or walk-through parks than individuals who did not possess dogs.” Comparatively, cats tend to enjoy playtime throughout the day, which helps their elderly owner to stay engaged and active. 

Provides a Sense Of Purpose

It is common for the elderly population to have symptoms of depression and isolate themselves from family and social outings. Studies have shown that pet therapy has the ability to reduce those symptoms of depressions and loneliness. Pets provide a sense of purpose because they depend on their owners for food, exercise, and companionship. Taking care of a pet can be a big responsibility and require a daily regimen which can provide structure to the owner’s day. According to NCBI, “responsibility is widely considered important in mental health recovery.”

At Spring Hills, our care providers have witnessed just how much having a pet enhances the lives and joy of those in our care. Pet therapy allows people to interact, socialize and engage routinely. Our goal is to enhance our seniors lives by nurturing the mind, body and spirit through our programs, therapies and other Signature Touch Programs.

Horticulture Therapy

Horticultural therapy is a professional practice that uses plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health. For those who love gardening, there is perhaps nothing more relaxing than the feeling of fresh soil between your fingers. A passion for many seniors, the benefits of gardening don’t stop at bountiful produce and beautiful blooms. Gardening has proven therapeutic for reducing physical pain and stress levels and boosting your overall quality of life. The practice of connecting with the earth — planting flowers and vegetables, getting your hands dirty, and watching your efforts turn into beautiful results — provides a sense of empowerment that too often vanishes with age.

Why Horticulture Therapy is beneficial for seniors:

Physical Therapy

Planting, daily pruning and watering, or even just a walk through the garden can help you stay physically well — promoting muscle movement, coordination, heart and lung health and flexibility.

Reduces Stress

Nature provides a sense of calm and reassurance through growing things and pleasant surroundings, benefiting seniors suffering from stressors such as health concerns, mobility problems, loneliness, grief and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Horticultural Therapy can also help the body learn to deal with stress better and reduce negative effects that stress gives you like increased heart rates and blood pressure. 

Socialization and Self Improvement  

Many studies show that Horticultural Therapy by improving social interaction which helps form relationships but also can benefit self-awareness which is an amazing self improvement and can help seniors relate to others. Gardens can provide both a literal and figurative common ground, with bountiful opportunities for connection. Horticultural Therapy can also contribute to self improvement and empowerment. Tending to living things provides independence and a sense of control, knowing that your actions can make things grow. Watch as your flowers bloom or your tomatoes ripen and enjoy a feeling of accomplishment in what you’ve created.

An Improved Attention Span 

Being engulfed by the colors, textures, smells and sounds in a garden stimulate involuntary attention and allows your mind to wander and clear itself without causing fatigue or stress.

Spring Hills Horticultural Therapy  program allows residents to create indoor herb and flower gardens so they can enjoy elevated moods even as the temperatures drop outside.The culinary team at our Assisted Living facilities works hand-in-hand with our residents to incorporate the herbs, vegetables, and fruits they’ve grown into gourmet meals. With the fresh and local produce that our residents grow, our chefs can spice up the menu with scrumptious and nutritious meals, making for happier residents all around. Our residents reap the benefits of their labor — not only in the meals they enjoy, but also in the confidence and sense of purpose that their contribution provides.

Our goal is making sure our residents Live Happy. Providing them with the right tools to do so is our number one priority. We love to see our residents dance in Music Therapy, their eyes light up during watercolors in Art Therapy, and how calm and at peace they feel while gardening in our Horticultural Therapy. Working on the mind, body and spirit is crucial in living a healthy lifestyle so these programs have been a really great asset to Spring Hills and our residents love them. 

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