Have you ever found comfort in painting a picture, creating pottery or even discussing an artist’s work you enjoy? Art therapy is a creative form of therapy for older adults with memory loss, or people experiencing mental or physical stress. Unlike a regular art class, art therapy sessions are led by professional art therapists. They’re trained to help people address specific conditions or concerns and gain therapeutic benefits, rather than simply develop a new artistic skill.
Some of the benefits of art therapy for seniors include its impact on one’s mood, self-expression and lifelong learning.
1. It Can Improve Your Mood
One of the greatest benefits of art therapy for seniors is that it can positively affect one’s mood. If you’re experiencing new symptoms of memory loss, hearing loss or changes in your vision, you may be feeling increased stress or anxiety. Engaging in music and art therapies can help relieve these feelings, improve your mood and impact your overall quality of life.
At Chicago Methodist Senior Services, our art therapist leads programs specifically designed for people with memory loss, which engage residents in painting, drawing and other artistic pursuits. Residents find these programs both relaxing and fun.
2. It’s a New Form of Self-Expression
Another one of the benefits of art therapy for seniors is a new opportunity for self-expression. Older adults with memory loss, for example, sometimes have trouble communicating through speaking or writing. Instead, art therapies offer methods of expression. Trained art therapists guide people with memory loss through the process of creating and interpreting a new creative project. This process can help improve communication between older adults with memory loss and their caregivers, family and friends.
Regardless of whether or not someone is living with memory loss, all older adults can benefit from trying a new form of self-expression. If you’re experiencing grief or dealing with a difficult medical condition, art therapy can help you process your feelings.
3. It Gets You Thinking In New Ways
Sometimes, art therapy goes beyond creating art. It’s also a great way to engage in lifelong learning about existing artwork.
Lifelong learning is very important to us here at CMSS, which is why we brought a local professor on board to lead our arts programming. With a background in art history, Dr. Mark Pohlad is always finding new ways to get residents thinking about art in a new way. He leads engaging discussions at Chicago-area museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, and even created a lecture series where residents can earn a “Certificate of Achievement for Continuing Education in Art History.” Dr. Pohlad and other members of the CMSS team are currently researching how programs like these can expand the definition of “art therapy.”
“Innovative programs like these are meant to contribute to CMSS’s commitment to the arts and to progressive therapy for [residents],” Dr. Pohlad said. “I and others here at CMSS are thinking now about writing our findings in academic papers and presenting them at conferences on aging.”
As you look for senior care communities, remember to ask about their art therapy offerings. Read more about what memory loss art therapy looks like at CMSS. You can also download our brochure to get a complete picture of our care offerings.