Who doesn’t remember how much fun art and painting were back when we were kids? Not only was our creativity ignited, imagination stretched and grew. Drawing whole new worlds and envisioning our lives with childlike wonder made everyday life way more interesting.
As an adult, it’s increasingly important to maintain this sense of exploration. It’s so great for mental health and well-being. Engaging our brains and stepping back from logical thinking, just for a little while, reaps so many psychological benefits.
Art and painting are fantastic ways to relax, pass the time and let your creativity run wild.
The benefits of art and painting for older adults include:
Once they give it a go, most people find they enjoy painting. The popularity continues to grow due to the ease of starting and numerous benefits. In fact, many seniors’ facilities offer programs and encourage their residents to participate.
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1. Satisfaction and Entertainment
Painting is a creative experience which allows you to express yourself. For any aspiring artist, picking up a brush might be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Much like a good book, time flies when you’re engrossed in this artistic pursuit.
Moreover, it’s calming and even revitalizing. Getting started might be the greatest stumbling block, especially for anyone intimidated by a blank canvas. Taking a class or doing a “paint-by-numbers” could be options to consider.
2. Social Engagement
While you can sign up for online courses, painting need not be a solitary activity and might be more enjoyable in a group setting. Enrolling in an art class or joining a club is a great way to meet like-minded people and expand your circle of friends.
Many older adults look forward to such activities and the social interaction. This, in turn, is an effective way to combat feelings of loneliness and/or isolation. This can be particularly true for anyone who has lost a spouse or close friend.
3. Improved Mood
Another one of the benefits of art and painting for older adults is an improved mood and a more positive outlook on life. The time, effort and creativity invested in their work generates an uplifting experience.
Simply put, creating a piece of art “feels good”. Further to this, research suggests when someone is pleased with themselves, the body often releases endorphins. These are natural mood enhancers making the entire experience even better.
4. Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem
Completing an art project not only provides a sense of accomplishment, it can boost confidence and self-esteem. Many people don’t believe they have any artistic talents (at least initially) or would be able to paint anything worthwhile.
With a bit of practice, many of these budding artists are amazed at their progress. Overall, their self-perception becomes more cheerful and upbeat.
This can spill over into other aspects of their life as they feel more self-assured. It can also have huge implications for individuals struggling with the aging process, feeling less important or even a burden on society.
5. Reduced Stress
Reducing stress and anxiety is yet another of the benefits of art and painting for older adults. When they're able to stay focused in the present, it frees their mind from daily stresses and other worries. This can be calming and almost therapeutic.
The meditative nature of creating artwork is immersive as the focus becomes on each brush stroke and getting just the right shade of color. This creates a state of “mindfulness” which can be as powerful as meditation.
6. Emotional Well-Being
Creating art can promote emotional well-being. The process often becomes therapeutic and cathartic as seniors explore and communicate their feelings. When engaging in a creative pursuit such as painting, you’re allowing deeply buried feelings to re-emerge and be expressed in a non-verbal manner.
Art therapy is, often, used to convey a current state of mind as some people are uncomfortable releasing emotion. It provides safe, stable and non-threatening surroundings for the individual to release whatever is bothering them.
When you learn how to express yourself, you’re actually showing self-love and self-care for your emotional well-being. Getting rid of negativity makes life a little brighter and everything seems a little more positive.
7. Cognitive Stimulation and Memory Enhancement
One of the very important health benefits of art and painting for older adults is the cognitive stimulation, which also boosts memory function. The creative process sharpens the brain requiring both concentration and creativity. Research by the NIH concludes artistic expression helps slow down mental decline in seniors while enhancing their overall wellness.
Learning to paint is an ongoing process with new techniques and styles. This continual learning stimulates areas of the brain which might otherwise stagnate. Further studies suggest this may reduce the risk or, at least, delay the onslaught of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Related options might include signing up for a pottery course, fiction writing or astronomy.
8. Physical Benefits
Although one would not normally associate physical benefits with creating art, nevertheless there are several important ones. These include hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and manual dexterity.
As one example, someone suffering from arthritis might find relief after taking up a brush. As we age it becomes increasingly important to maintain and improve upon our physical abilities. This, of course, will also improve daily life.
Perhaps even more importantly, physical health often improves. With a more positive outlook and reduced stress, previous aches/pains and existing conditions tend to diminish. Even susceptibility to disease can be reduced due to enhanced well-being.
Closing Thoughts on The Benefits of Art and Painting for Older Adults
One of the ideal activities for older adults is creating art. Something most of us did as children and may still recall the pleasure of expressing ourselves. Especially in our later years, rediscovering our creative sides can provide immense satisfaction and hours of enjoyment.
In addition, the many benefits associated with this pastime are compelling. Several notable ones include reduction in stress, sharpening our mental functioning and more social interaction. Overall, the many benefits can lead to living a more meaningful life with improved well-being.