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Positivity Through Painting: The Therapeutic Benefits of Artfully Aging’s Senior Art Programs

Mary Beth Flynn | 10 February, 2021

            Positivity Through Painting: The Therapeutic Benefits of Artfully Aging’s Senior Art Programs

Painting a picture is more than a hobby or a way to pass the time for older adults in senior living facilities. With every swipe of a paintbrush, they enhance their quality of life and improve their overall mental health while creating something beautiful.

When art programs are incorporated into a comprehensive senior wellness plan, a paint palette can be just as powerful as a pill bottle in easing anxiety and depression. Even more incredible, a renowned 2017 study by the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging found that the risk of new-onset cognitive impairment decreases by 28 percent when seniors participate in art activities.

Since 2009, Artfully Aging has empowered hundreds of seniors across St. Louis through our therapeutic art program. Now, with our new online art sessions and virtual training for activity directors and staff, senior living facilities throughout the U.S. can launch their own in-house programs and watch their residents thrive.

Better health, greater happiness for your residents

Seniors who participate in Artfully Aging’s therapeutic art program can experience immediate benefits that enhance their well-being and self-worth:

  • Relaxation – When residents step into an art session, they’re urged to leave their worries at the door. As soon as they pick up their paintbrush, they become engaged in the moment and escape the stress of the day. They’re no longer in a nursing home or living facility, but transported to the scene they’ve created.
  • Socialization – Loneliness and isolation are two of the biggest threats to a senior’s mental and physical health. Being part of an art group is an anxiety-free way for older adults to get to know their fellow residents and bond over their shared experiences. Even if dementia or other cognitive disorders impact a senior’s ability to communicate, their work often speaks for them.
  • Creativity – Although prepared watercolor templates and instructional videos are provided by Artfully Aging, residents are encouraged to make the projects their own. By selecting specific colors and incorporating their ideas into the composition, their unique creativity shines through.
  • Sense of accomplishment – According to the American Psychological Association, our self-worth and self-esteem start to decline after age 60, especially when we are no longer physically or mentally able to work or enjoy the activities we once loved. Completing an art project gives residents a sense of purpose and an understanding of their value.
  • The opportunity for reminiscence – Because Artfully Aging projects are seasonal and timely, it’s easy for staff to select projects from the online menu which will appeal to seniors’ desire to reminisce and share stories. A winter scene design, for instance, may reignite a memory of playing in the snow for a senior struggling with dementia.
  • Sense of pride – When they first begin to paint, residents often feel intimidated, especially if they have little art experience. However, once they lose themselves in their work, they surprise themselves with their creative ability. They can’t wait to show their finished work to friends and family or have it displayed in your facility’s common areas.
  • Cognitive stimulation – Research shows there has been a shift to non-pharmaceutical interventions like therapeutic art to slow seniors’ cognitive decline. Watercolor projects provide a healthy challenge by requiring varying levels of concentration, creative skills, and eye-hand coordination, all of which promote brain stimulation.
  • Enjoyment – Residents rediscover a sense of joy by participating in a meaningful activity like art, whether in a group setting or an individual session. During COVID-19, when many other social activities are off-limits or when seniors are confined to their rooms and isolated from others, this fun and relaxing diversion offers happiness during a time of frustration.

There’s no better time than now to offer the benefits of a therapeutic art program to your residents! By visiting the Artfully Aging online shop now, you can find beautiful art projects that will appeal to the older adults you serve and receive online training to lead sessions that inspire every participant. To learn more about utilizing art to improve mental health outcomes for seniors, contact us today at 314-968-9148.