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Five Reasons Why Art is Important for Seniors Living With Dementia

Mary Beth Flynn | 23 August, 2022

            Five Reasons Why Art is Important for Seniors Living With Dementia

Most senior living communities offer some kind of arts and crafts programming to keep their residents active and engaged. While any projects that stir a senior’s creativity are good for the mind and soul, meaningful art activities based on therapeutic practices can improve their quality of life, if even for just a few hours.

After more than a decade of guiding watercolor sessions for seniors living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the team at Artfully Aging has seen first-hand why painting is so important to one’s well-being. By understanding the benefits of art below, we’ve evolved our program to better meet the emotional, mental, and physical needs of those we serve.

  • The impact of color on emotions – Color can play a role in helping those with memory loss regulate their emotions. For example, when seniors paint with pink, it helps still their feelings of anxiety and anger. Orange and coral are associated with happiness and enthusiasm, while blue and green promote calm and tranquility.
  • Quiet relaxation – Excess noise can be disorienting for seniors, especially if they live in busy communities. Many activities that are beneficial for more independent residents can be distressing for individuals with dementia. Artfully Aging watercolor sessions provide a quiet, comforting space where seniors can focus solely on the project in front of them.
  • Expression through art – Seniors with advanced dementia often lose their ability to communicate vocally. Art allows them to express their feelings and memories non-verbally, helping to ease their depression and enjoy greater connectedness with others.
  • Greater social interaction – Isolation from others can speed up the progression of dementia. However, researchers found that even just one hour of socialization a week can reduce a senior’s agitation and loneliness. Artfully Aging sessions give residents a chance to bond over a shared activity, even if they are unable to talk with one another.
  • A sense of achievement – Dementia can quickly steal a senior’s autonomy, leaving them frustrated and depressed. However, when a resident works on an art project, they regain a feeling of independence, even if they need hands-on assistance. At Artfully Aging, we encourage participants to make their projects their own by selecting colors and incorporating their own creativity into the composition. When they see their finished piece, they experience pride in their work.

With our prepared watercolor sheets and guided how-to videos, Artfully Aging makes it easy and affordable for activity and enrichment directors in dementia care to launch a regular art program that makes a true difference in the lives of their residents. To learn more, visit artfullyaging.com/pages/how-it-works.