7 Extraordinary Benefits of Creative Expression for Older Adults
More studies are showing the powerful, transformative, impact of participation in creative activities.
Expression through the arts can have extraordinary health benefits that researchers are just starting to understand. Research shows that older adults who are the most socially engaged remain healthy and active.
1. Provides an opportunity to overcome limits
Creative expression provides an opportunity for older adults to overcome limitations through creative and imaginative thought. Neuro-science is continuing to unpack the power of imagination and how it can shape our reality.
"This research confirms that imagination is a neurological reality that can impact our brains and bodies in ways that matter for our wellbeing."
~ Tor Wager, director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at CU Boulder*
Artist Ann Haessel Points Out a Feature of One of Her Art Pieces
A recent example of how creativity overcomes limits is a delightful story of Garrison Green's resident, Ann Haessel. Ann is a Calgary artist and has been creating unique, colourful abstract art pieces since 1982. She has been contacted by Le Galeriste in Montreal to incorporate her work into their clothing lines. Who would have thought that at age 78 she would be embarking on a new business adventure!
2. Increases levels of empowerment and purpose
Active involvement in creative expression increases levels of empowerment through a sense of achievement. Being part of a community that is involved in meaningful art expression further amplifies one’s sense of purpose.
Participants in one creative expression study reported feeling increased energy and a feeling of self-empowerment to try new things and actively seek out social interaction.*
Recycling Art Project Raises Awareness at United Active Living
An example of empowerment and purpose through art is seen at United Active Living's Fish Creek residence. Residents joined with the Art Gallery to create sculptures and information displays that encourage and inform about the need to reduce, reuse and recycle.
3. A therapeutic outlet that enables self-expression
Whether it be because of cognitive impairment, a language-barrier, or any other reason where verbal expression is difficult, art and creative pursuits provide an alternate therapeutic outlet. We can still communicate and connect with others through art and creative expression.*
Garrison Green's United Minds Resident Expressing through Art
At United Active Living we have a revolutionary United Minds program which is designed to provide a safe, nurturing environment where residents with cognitive impairment and other cognition challenges can enjoy a positive life experience. Creative expression is key to the program offering a much-enjoyed outlet for expression. Learn more about United Minds Memory Care Program >>
4. Improves functional mobility and physical well-being
Art and creativity provides an opportunity for older adults to to develop a variety of new skills; to gain confidence and in turn find creative solutions for day-to-day challenges.
"In one study, after a twelve month period of engaging in participatory art activities, the older adults who were engaged reported a higher rate of physical health, fewer accidental falls, a decrease in the amount and types of medications they needed, and a decrease in the number of times they needed to visit the doctor or other healthcare professional."*
United's Residents Using Creative Movement
5. Provides social connection and belonging
Creative expression affords the opportunity to express oneself and overcome social inhibitions. This improves the sense of trust between participants which is the foundation for deeper relational connection. Joint art-making leads to a greater sense of community and social belonging through group participation.
United's Residents Engaged in an Art Project Creating an Mini-Golf Obstacle Course
6. Improves mood and enjoyment of life
Creative expressions rekindle memories from our youth and the subsequent care-free joy that accompanies such activities. Studies show that improved mood and a greater enjoyment of life is a direct result of creative expression.
United's Residents 'Jamming' with Some Classics
7. Positively impacts an entire community
A creative arts program is shown to not only impact the individual, but the entire community as well. Stronger relational bonds, feelings of camaraderie and the overall quality of life elevates the culture of the whole community.
Even though you may not consider yourself 'artistic' or 'creative', every one of us has this side to us. When we are given the opportunity to tap into that creative side, a transformative potential is released.
In fact, studies suggest that an enriched environment and social support may promote creativity in older adults.*
Residents at Garrison Green Engaging in Creative Projects
Creative expression is a cornerstone of all United Active Living residences.
We recognized that current methods of housing for seniors and operating programs for them didn’t match current research into the benefits of arts and cultural programs in creating physical and cognitive wellness.
By offering a better way to live in their later years, our approach is setting a new standard that ensures older adults are treated with respect, and given the autonomy to make their own decisions regardless of their mental and physical conditions.
Our extensive list of programs and activities sets us apart through the variety that is offered, and the program partnerships with Calgary’s art and cultural organizations.
“At United, being creative isn’t a hobby. It’s a way of life,” said Monica Schmidt, program coordinator, United’s Garrison Green community.
“We have professional artists on staff who provide support for every level, from those who have never picked up a brush or a handful of clay, to residents who were attracted to United because they can continue their lifelong passion for art.”
Explore United Active Living's unique Assisted Living at Garrison Green, or Independent Living residence at Fish Creek West.