Even if a senior has never picked up a paintbrush before, artistic expression can become an important part of communication and connection as the effects of aging set in. Art therapy is now a recognized mental health profession, protected under laws in many states such as Florida, Connecticut and New Jersey, and is especially helpful for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
“Art therapy uses the process of art-making to help (people) develop insights and find resolutions to inner conflicts,” said Angel Duncan, a marriage and family therapist and registered art therapist who is the Executive Arts Director of the Cognitive Dynamics Foundation. “It is the process of talk therapy combined with art-making. The art helps the trained therapist to pick out potential areas of discomfort and/or begin to formulate meaningful conversations that may offer a release, peace of mind and insight to empower the client in leading and living in positive wellbeing.”
Art therapy comes in many forms, from watercolor painting and coloring to sculpting and drawing. Many Capital Senior Living communities offer classes and workshops that allow residents to express themselves with paint, an easel, brushes, colored pencils, crayons and much more. Seniors in our communities - and their loved ones - are encouraged to visit their Community Life page on our website to keep up with the events planned by our activities directors. The more than 11,000 senior centers across the nation also offer programs such as art therapy for seniors, and many of our communities offer scheduled transportation options to these facilities.
There are many benefits of seniors partaking in classes where they can paint, color and express themselves through art. In addition to increasing cognitive skills and opening up opportunities for social connection, art therapy can:
Duncan has worked with many seniors and offered two stories for us to share:
If a senior or group of seniors wants to contract a registered art therapist, they can find one in their area by looking up professionals through the American Art Therapy Association.
Even if official art therapy classes aren’t offered in a city or community, seniors can still engage with art individually or with a group by simply picking up supplies from a local big-box retailer or thrift store. From drawing in a sketchbook and making a collage to painting and sculpting, the options are endless.
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