Creative Arts Can Improve Seniors’ Physical and Mental Well-being

Growing old has its challenges, but people who engage in the creative arts as they age experience personal growth and fulfillment, according to several studies. Research funded by the National Endowment for the Arts suggests that engaging in the creative arts can enhance physical and psychological heath.
Painting, singing, dancing, acting, writing and participating in similar activities have the potential to offset the complications of aging, researchers found.

People who participated in arts programs fared better than individuals in the control groups. Specifically, those who participated in creative activities reported better physical health (fewer falls, fewer medical appointments, and less medication usage), better mental health (less loneliness and enhanced morale), and increased involvement in activities, as compared to their counterparts.

Residents Clara and Dominic Presutti display Clara’s stunning paintings.

 

 

How can taking art classes, singing in a choir or acting in a play bring about such impressive changes? Researchers believe that working to master a craft can enhance the immune system. Engaging socially with others produces both physical and psychosocial benefits, they said. Creative endeavors can also promote the brain’s ability to grow and change.

Residents of Welty Home, the area’s premiere assisted living program, recently held an Art Show to share their talents with fellow residents, families, and friends. The show was organized by David Callihan, a member of the Welty activities staff, who noticed paintings and other works of art when he visited residents’ rooms and wanted to showcase their talent and creativity.

 

Veteran quilter Sondra Cecil shares her hand-sewn masterpieces.

Fourteen residents, more than one-quarter of Welty residents, participated in the art show, displaying their paintings (on canvas and china), quilting, crochet, needlepoint, plastic canvas, ship building and birdhouse building. Residents and their guests thoroughly enjoyed the event, which included refreshments and lots of time to talk with the artists about their work.

Welty Home offers a number of opportunities for residents to enhance their creativity, said Welty Home Manager Tess Gaudino. “We have painting and drawing classes taught by local artists, sign language classes taught by David Callihan, musical performances by individual musicians or local choral groups and gardening in the Welty Home gardens, she said. “Even people who didn’t enjoy the arts when they were younger enjoy participating,” she said. “Some of them discover talents they didn’t know they possessed.”

From left, residents Rita Dolan and Clara Folmar admire the talent of artist Penny Vance, who is also a Welty Home resident.