• IMPROVE COGNITION
There is increasing scientific evidence that art therapy enhances brain function and that it
provides intellectual stimulation. And art therapy has been a go-to palliative care method for
persons experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s. We challenge seniors to look at things from a
In fact, with older adults who have experienced memory loss, this activity can stimulate their
senses and help to trigger forgotten memories. Learning new art forms improves thinking skills and
the ways that seniors make neural connections, something that may be lost as they age.
• REDUCE PAIN
Focusing on a single task can help seniors to forget about pain. We’re not saying the pain goes
away. But not focusing on the pain for a little while can be a very good thing.
• RELIEVE STRESS
Art improves emotional balance, and this allows seniors to relieve stress and anxiety. As one
research paper noted, “engagement with creative activities has the potential to contribute toward
reducing stress and depression…”
So, art therapy for seniors should be about the creative process. Seniors are encouraged to focus
on expressing their feelings. And when they do so, it allows them to release the internal emotional
turmoil and reduce their stress levels. For example, art therapy is often used for dementia
patients. Memory loss is a stressful situation for both the seniors and their caregivers. So, in
addition to the medical benefits of art for dementia seniors, it is a calming and creative process
that can promote happy feelings. And this is a great start to alleviating stress in both seniors
and the people caring for them.
• HELP WITH DEPRESSION
A study of seniors residing in a care home published in the Social Work in Health Care Journal
showed that art can help decrease depression and improve self-esteem. In fact, art therapy helps
with overall mental health for seniors. The authors noted that it could improve long-term care and
move it towards a “more diverse, unique, and innovative direction. “So, one way in which art
contributes to helping with depression is through what it does in our body. According to a
University of London Study, viewing art that the person sees as beautiful stimulates the instant
release of dopamine, a natural chemical in our body that makes us feel happier. Therefore, this feel-good neurotransmitter is very useful in battling depression.
• FOSTER SOCIALIZATION
Many art programs for seniors are done in a social setting. It’s an alternate way of interacting
with others, and it gives seniors a chance to create connections. This allows our older adults to
build relationships with other adults as well as their caregivers and helps alleviate the effects
of senior social isolation. This is especially important now that more seniors are affected by the
continued isolation due to COVID-19. And because art is an individual pursuit, you can still
practice it in a social setting and adhere to physical distancing requirements for health purposes.
• HELP WITH COMMUNICATION
For our seniors who find it difficult to communicate, art could be an outlet for expression. They
learn how to connect with themselves and others. And like with the benefits of socialization, it
helps to reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s a great method for seniors to
connect with their loved ones, caregivers, and friends, especially if they’re impacted by memory
loss or affected by other issues that impact communication.
• PROMOTE SELF-EXPRESSION
Finally, art can give seniors a chance to find a new creative outlet and a way of expressing
themselves. It can be a new form of self-expression if they’re lost their ability to speak or write
due to the effects of aging. When art allows seniors to address their values and beliefs, it can
lead to emotional and spiritual growth and improvement in their self-esteem. It can change seniors’
outlook on the world and how they view themselves in the world. This highlights the importance of
making sure that the activities we choose are culturally appropriate in addition to offering a
From: The National Institute on Aging, press release, April 5, 2004, “Creativity, Aging, and Health
Meeting,” Sponsored by the National Institute on Aging,
Society for the Arts in Healthcare.