Benefits of the Arts: Ideas of How to Incorporate the Arts Into the Lives of Older Adults
By Steve Toll, care enhancement specialist
It has amazed me over the years of working with older adults how much artistic talent humans possess and how much joy is derived from the arts. The arts can focus our attention on connecting with others and these connections can create well-being throughout of lives. In addition, there is growing research that engaging with the arts can improve health – both mental and physical.
There are numerous ways of incorporating the arts into everyday life, whether it be creating art or observing artistic creations. Here are some ideas you may be able to find in your community.
Dance. Research has shown that all types of dance “can significantly improve muscular strength and endurance, balance, and other aspects of functional fitness in older adults.” Most communities have businesses that offer dance classes for older adults. These classes are designed to address different levels of function and most can be adapted for any physical challenges.
Music. One of the greatest activities that provide an opportunity to socialize and have some fun is group singing and the research proves the benefits. Many communities have community choirs that do not require auditions - all are welcome. Singing together also provides opportunities for older people living with dementia and young people to come together and share a fun musical time. Playing music and listening to music also have proven benefits. If someone plays an instrument - keep playing. If someone loves to listen, learn about their favorite music and listen together.
Art. Another great example of how art can be infused into daily life are art museums. Visiting museums is social and engaging and has been proven to be a meaningful activity for people living with dementia. And, of course, making art is fun and rewarding, keeps our creative juices flowing and has major health benefits.
Remember, enjoying and participating in the arts is possible for everyone and discovering the talents and preferences that lie within creates an opportunity to develop relationships as well as support a person’s favorite artistic activities.