Almost two million people in the US describe their primary occupation as an artist, representing 1.4% of the workforce. Of course, art is not just for working adults; people of all ages—including children, teens, and seniors, can enjoy its mental health benefits.
If you are over 65 and have never created art before, know that it is never too late to learn. From sculpture to painting, collage creation to sketching, there are so many ways to express your thoughts and emotions through your chosen medium.
Battling Anxiety and Boosting Self-Esteem
A 2013 study (Kim, 2013) involved seniors taking part in around 30-40 minutes of art-making with materials of their choice (acrylic paints, clay, pencils, and the like), then participating in a group discussion. The findings revealed that participants enjoyed various benefits, including reduced anxiety and better self-esteem.
Another study (Reynolds, 2010) showed that a group of retired women who began creating works like pottery, textile art, painting, and the like, developed new skills, enriched their mental health, enjoyed a sense of preserved identity, and paid greater attention to nature.
Art vs. Depression
Art therapy is used to help people of all ages with depression, including seniors. Indeed, seniors need to try out an array of natural methods to quell depression since this mental condition is present in approximately seven million people aged over 65.
A 2018 study (Ciasca, et al.) showed that art therapy could be used successfully as a complementary treatment for depression. Another study (Hee Choi & Young Jeon, 2013) found that art therapy could help enhance cognition and quality of life in the elderly while also keeping depression at bay.
The Benefits of Art Are for Everyone
The good news for those taking art up for the first time is that expertise is not necessary to reap all these benefits from art. Research indicates that even absolute beginners can use art to reduce stress and boost their well-being.
Older people who love nature can head to a nearby park or seaside area to sketch flowers, birds, leaves, the sea, and other natural elements. Before starting, they can hone their ability at sketching birds and other wild creatures by learning a few basics if they wish.
For birds, for instance, tips include drawing a simple circle to represent the bird’s head, adding two lines to its side, and joining them a few inches beneath the circle to represent the body. One can then add an inverted triangle to represent the tail. Details such as beaks, eyes, feathers, and of course, vivid colors can be added later. In time, specifics such as proportion, positioning, and light and shade can all be improved.
Contemplating Art Works Wonders, Too
Those who prefer to view art rather than create it should know that simply viewing works they love can positively affect their mood, as researchers from the University of Arkansas found. The study showed that around 88% of those who visited museums and galleries had enhanced critical thinking, tolerance, and historical empathy.
Meanwhile, University College London researchers have found that viewing art can be as pleasurable as falling in love.
If you are over 65 or retired and you would love to try out a new activity, know that you can benefit greatly from pursuing the visual arts. Even if you are a beginner, creating art can help you lower stress and battle stress and anxiety. Joining an art group is even more beneficial, as it can open your social networks and enable you to work alongside people with similar interests.
The National Institute on Aging says available research shows that all types of arts can benefit those aging. Whether it is traditional art, music, dance, theater, and creative writing improves the quality of life.
If you or a loved one is getting older, getting involved in the arts can only be a positive.
About the Author
Sally Phillips is a freelance writer with many years’ experience across many different areas. She enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.
Contributor since November 4th, 2017
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