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The Physical And Mental Benefits Of Art Therapy For Seniors

Art therapy offers a range of physical, psychological and cognitive benefits for seniors and people living with dementia. We investigate the science behind the positive outcomes.

At Focus Home Care, we believe that irrespective of age, people should have the chance to engage in creative passions that can support physical, mental and psychological wellbeing.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy blends psychology and creativity, using art as a means for individuals to express themselves visually rather than through verbal or written communication.

Far from being restricted to younger people, art therapy is for everyone. It is increasingly being used as an innovative means for older Australians to connect and communicate their inner and outer feelings and experiences.

How can it help seniors?

Although creativity can’t be pinned down to any specific part of the brain, creative thinking lasts late into life, sometimes much more so than verbal reasoning. Hence, seniors may find it easier to express themselves using art instead of words.

Art therapy has also been shown to reduce feelings of depression, improve self-esteem and retain fine motor skills in hands and fingers later in life.

Are there any benefits of art therapy for people with dementia?

Yes, absolutely. The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee held a brainstorming forum, “Creative Expression and Dementia Care”, listing the potential benefits of art therapy for people living with dementia as:

  • Positive emotional responses
  • Reduced agitation
  • Greater social engagement/interaction
  • Change in cognitive processes
  • Increased verbal fluency
  • Functional improvements
  • Increased mobility
  • Greater physical strength and balance
  • Improved mood and attention span
  • Less stress for carers
  • Elevated quality of life

What does the science say about art therapy?

Research bears this out. For instance, one US Study found that 20 older adults with various impairments who learned Eastern Method pottery experienced less depression and anxiety, and improved self-esteem.

Numerous other studies over the last 20 years have demonstrated greater sustained attention, more pleasure and greater self-esteem for the elderly involved in an art therapy program as compared to other social activities.

Two such studies were conducted by Dr Jennifer Rusted, Linda Sheppard and Professor Diane Waller on a group of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and depression. They showed that a 10-week art therapy course was more effective in alleviating depression and improving cognition than participating in any other social activity.

Art therapy at Focus Home Care

Art therapy is available to all clients at Focus Home Care and can be paid for through your Home Care Package.

For further details on art therapy or to book a session with our wonderful art therapist, please don’t hesitate to Get in touch with the team at Focus Home Care.

Further Reading

Quality Dementia Care – Nurturing the Heart: creativity, art therapy and dementia

Published by Alzheimer’s Australia

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