Numerous studies have proven the positive impact that art programs can have in schools, and the same is true in senior living communities. Both viewing and creating art can increase neurological function, but it can also have immense social and psychological benefits for individuals in their later years.
One of the most common issues among older adults is isolation. As loved ones pass away and relocate, seniors are often faced with the need to find new connections, which can be intimidating and challenging. The integration of art can help mitigate some of these challenges and can be a powerful tool to lessen feelings of loneliness or depression. According to Dr. Raquel Stephenson of Lesley University, research shows that making art with others can promote increased self-esteem, motivation, and social connection, leading to improved health and overall well-being. By bringing seniors together through the making of art, we can give them the platform to build community and relationships that ultimately become stronger through shared experience.
Building Brain Power
While we know that keeping the brain active is a key component to healthy aging, the benefits of introducing art programs in senior communities have been proven to decrease the risk or slow down the impacts of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Friedrich's ataxia, Huntington's disease, and Parkinson's disease. While the brain inevitably ages, creative abilities do not necessarily deteriorate. In fact, the aging brain responds well to art by allowing the brain’s two hemispheres to work more in tandem. The ability to use one’s creativity throughout a lifetime, in accordance with the intelligence gained from years of accumulated knowledge and life experiences, help to cultivate the aging and creative brain, according to Bruce Miller, MD, a behavioral neurologist at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
Providing an Outlet for Communication
Not just in the senior community, art therapy has grown as a respected and well-studied modality to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Seniors can lose the ability to communicate or explain themselves in ways they once could, which can become frustrating. Art provides an approachable form of expression and an outlet to work through frustration and other emotional issues that seniors might choose to otherwise ignore.
We believe in the power of art to not only build community, but to also provide residents the opportunity to use their creativity and challenge their minds in new ways. Our arts initiative, Creative Arts at Rose Villa (CARV), is driven by residents and staff to increase access to visual, performative, musical, and literary arts. Our programming supports local and regional artists through exhibition and performance opportunities, a visiting artist series, workshop opportunities, an artist-in-residence program, and live music and theatre productions to ensure all residents have resources to creatively express themselves and improve cognitive function.