As the winter months can have a dramatic effect on a senior’s well-being, it’s important to ensure that elderly loved ones are staying engaged and active in their everyday lives. And even though this particular time of year has a way of limiting a senior’s activities, there’s no threshold on creativity. So if the weather or other circumstances are putting a pin in your loved one’s usual outlets for engagement, consider turning their attention to the arts.
Creative activities for the elderly help to keep their minds active and their hands busy, the advantages of which should never be overlooked. In fact, expressive art activities offer a wide range of benefits, such as helping a person relax, providing a sense of control, reducing depression and anxiety, assisting in socialization, encouraging playfulness and a sense of humor, improving cognition, offering sensory stimulation, fostering a stronger sense of identity, increasing self-esteem, nurturing spirituality and reducing boredom.
Depending on your aging loved one’s preferences and abilities, there are a variety of ways to encourage creativity in seniors. If you’re having trouble getting the senior in your life to try something new, consider doing it together. Following are some inspiring ideas for creative activities that can help your aging loved one reap the many benefits of tapping into their artistic capabilities.
1. Have a brush in hand
Think about getting your aging loved one’s creative juices flowing through some type of painting. There’s a wide variety of options for beginners to veteran artists, including everything from pottery and wood board painting to watercolors, canvases, and even paint-by-numbers. You can sign them up for a local class, find an online video tutorial or simply gather some supplies and do some free-flow painting together.
When it comes to art, there are no rules—just one’s own creativity for making a personal masterpiece. And one of the great advantages of this type of art is that it can be enjoyed as a solo or group activity. So the senior in your life can partake in the joys of painting either on their own or in the company of others, whichever fits their comfort level.
2. Work with yarn, string or fabric.
If you think your elderly loved one would enjoy a mindful, relaxing form of creative outlet, they might be a good fit for knitting, crocheting, or quilting. Given the sense of satisfaction, this type of activity brings, as well as the ability to gift one’s finished products to friends and loved ones, these forms of creativity have long been popular among the senior community.
In addition to boosting brain juices, knitting, crocheting, and quilting activities are great for exercising manual dexterity and fine motor skills, keeping the fingers and hands moving. There are plenty of patterns available, from novice to experienced, and these activities can be done in a group setting or on one’s own while listening to music or watching a favorite show.
3. Craft a story or poem
Is your aging loved one a composer of the written word? Do they enjoy putting pen to paper? Perhaps they like to create their own stories or give language to deep emotions? If that’s the case, there may be no more fitting artistic endeavor than that of creative writing. Encourage them to craft poems, short stories, family history, fiction, how-to’s, or whatever literary variety strikes their fancy.
Writing helps keep the mind sharp and one’s creativity open, and it can even allow for a deepened sense of passion and purpose. The truth is every senior has a story to tell, and storytelling validates the value of the years they have already lived. At a time when so many of their loved ones and family members have passed, it is a way of reconnecting with important, life-defining relationships and connections.
4. Pursue the culinary arts.
A creative activity is anything that opens the mind to creation, which is why food has long played a role in the arts. From experimenting with new recipes to plating beautiful culinary creations, there’s a highly imaginative element to cooking, baking, and serving delicious concoctions. If your aging loved is a savant in the kitchen—or simply enjoys trying new things—invite them to turn their attention to this creative endeavor.
Perhaps they’d like to participate in a local cooking class. Maybe they’d like to try a recipe from their favorite cooking show or watch an online tutorial on how to ice and decorate a cake. The best part? These activities result in creations to be savored and shared with loved ones and friends, an experience that’s equally good for the mind, body, and soul.
5. Dabble in dance, music, or theater.
Perhaps the senior in your life would be interested in trying the performing arts, learning to play an instrument, or partaking in the art of dance. All of these rhythmic and dramatic activities fall under the realm of creativity. And they can be practiced and enjoyed at whatever level fits your aging loved one’s interests, needs, and capabilities.
The performing arts are particularly beneficial for boosting self-esteem, confidence, and independence. One potential outlet is community theater, where seniors can play a variety of important roles both on and off the stage—or even engage in other creative aspects like wardrobe, scenery, lighting, sound, and visual effects.
If getting out to the stage is not your loved one’s cup of tea, perhaps they could take a dance class (ballroom is particularly popular among seniors) or engage with a musical instrument. Each of these activities has immense physical and mental benefits for the elderly and can bring a great deal of joy and purpose to their life.
If you’re interested in learning how United Methodist Homes’ senior living community offers a wealth of recreational, social, educational, and physical activities to stimulate the minds and bodies of residents, contact us today or schedule a complimentary visit now. For additional tips on senior health and lifestyle issues, check out our blog.