The Many Benefits of Art for Seniors at Home
Creative art pursuits provide so many wonderful benefits to all of us, including our senior population. Even during this pandemic, homebound seniors have been able to participate in therapeutic virtual art programs that help with cognitive function, relaxation and communication.
Virtual art classes are offered throughout the world through municipal township offices and private organizations. On the local front, groups like ARTZ Philadelphia offer small art group conversations and classes for people with dementia via Zoom connections. The Philadelphia Museum of Art provides a virtual tour of exhibitions as well as virtual drawing classes through the Barnes Foundation. Many virtual classes are led by experienced professional artists who offer lectures and instruction for nominal fees per session, with some even distributing drop-off art kits.
Art as a Creative Outlet
Local resident Aina (pronounced EYE-Nah) Roman, a senior adjunct instructor in fine art for Montgomery County Community College currently on leave of absence, has been assisting a group of seniors participating in a weekly painting classes. The senior students are free to choose their own subjects. They work on projects independently, coming together to critique and communicate with friends and fellow art lovers.
“Art is a creative outlet that provides these individuals with a sense of focus and purpose,” says Aina. “It really can help with social interaction and can provide self-validation whether individually or in a group setting.”
Even More Benefits of Art
Eileen Miller, author of The Girl Who Spoke With Pictures, writes that “art can permeate the deepest part of us, where no words exist.” Indeed, art as therapy is more than just a hobby. Benefits include:
Helps reduce depression and anxiety
Improves cognition function
Allows for self-expression
Enhances motor skills
Increases self esteem
Helps reduce boredom
Assists in socialization
Provides a sense of control
Enhances mood and encourages relaxation
Art at Home Across the Country
In California, students at Gunn High School conduct online art classes for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, using art via their website Gladiolus Studio. The program offers a virtual summer program for seniors, providing free art kits and entertainment in conjunction with a local senior community. As the pandemic continues, more and more teachers are offering online courses that can help seniors create something fun, stimulate brains and work toward goals. Classes, normally for a fee and non-credit, are offered by local township centers, community colleges, learning centers and more. Many classes are kept purposely small and utilize a wide range of methods and materials.
Art Therapy for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) provides tips on how art can enrich patients with memory impairment. Caregivers provide paper and colored pencils and set up a still life or garden scene. The AA suggests helpers keep the following in mind when planning art activities for someone with middle-to-late-stage Alzheimer’s:
Avoid projects that might seem too childlike
Help the individual begin the project if needed
Avoid toxic materials and unsafe/sharp tools
Don’t rush individual to complete a project in one sitting
Use the opportunity to reminisce
When Your Loved One Needs More Help
For individuals who wish to remain at home but need help, Reliance Home Health Care, Inc. offers companionship, medical assistance, memory impairment care, meal preparation and so much more for home-bound seniors on an hourly, daily, weekly, or overnight basis. The Blue Bell, PA company provides service to the greater Philadelphia area and is an Approved Provider by Montgomery County Aging and Adult Services. For more information and to learn more about their “Try us for a day” free trial incentive, call 610-896-6030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.