Tell me the first image that comes into your mind when you hear the word ‘therapy’. Maybe you envision a person lying on a couch talking to a man with a pad and pencil. Perhaps an image of a physical therapist decked all in white comes to mind. Seniors often bristle at the mention of ‘therapy’ as it sometimes conjures up feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. Like all of us, they want to feel empowered and proud of their accomplishments. And they deserve this. This is where art therapy can help your loved one. Though it has been around for decades, art therapy has only recently been making a movement in the care of seniors. For the uninitiated, it is exactly as it sounds: using creative expression to help the mind and ease the soul. But, that definition is limited; art therapy can cultivate an entirely new creative dimension in the heart of your loved one.There have been multiple studies on the effect of art therapy on those afflicted with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some have suggested that art therapy can unlock memories and help others communicate thereby easing some of the frustration of the patients. But, it can also be beneficial in other ways as well. Some of the ways your loved one may benefit art therapy include:
- Improving motor and cognitive skills– While sports are a great way to keep the body and mind sharp, it is not always accessible to all seniors. Mobility and other health issues can be an impediment to sports. Some people also don’t like sports. Using their hands and mind to craft a piece of art through painting can be a wonderful way for your loved to regularly hone and use their body and mind keeping them sharp and active.
- Sense of accomplishment– Ask any artist about the feeling of satisfaction they get after finishing a piece of art. It is similar to the feeling that any of us get when we can look back on a job well done. It can be hard for seniors to get the feeling again in the post-retirement age. An art project gives a senior the chance to put all of their energy, focus, and creative juices behind a creation that is uniquely their own. At some point, the art piece will be finished and your loved one will be able sit back and look with pride on their creation. That sense of accomplishment is a wonderful thing that simply cannot be duplicated. Doing art is also positive way to reduce boredom for seniors.
- A Way To Bond– Art is a hobby that transcends the age gap. Even more so, it can even act as a bridge between the generations. Some young people feel awkward around seniors; they are often want to connect, but are unsure how to relate to their older relatives. An art project can give your loved one a vehicle to bond with their grandchildren in ways they didn’t think they could. They could even work on a piece of art as a team.
Therapy is a wonderful thing; sometimes, we just have to think outside of the box and try something different. Explore an art project with your loved one. Whether it is painting, drawing, charcoal, or sculpting, art therapy can offer seniors a wonderful creative outlet that will create a wonderful ripple effect in their lives.
At iCare we we have developed the Therapeutic Art Program (TAP) as part of the iCare Cognitive Stimulation support service. The program is facilitated by an Artist in Residence who is a practicing artist with graduate level training in art therapy. Call us or book an appointment to learn more about our program.