March is National Craft Month, so let’s talk about that. Most people believe arts and crafts are for kids. But that’s not true; people of all ages can enjoy these activities, especially seniors. As you retire, you have more hours to fill in a typical day. For too long, the answer to the question of how to spend those hours hasn’t incorporated much. As a society, we’ve failed to encourage older adults to explore new hobbies and passions. But that’s wrong, unfair, and leads to a stifling of the many good years people have left. As the new wave of seniors begin to retire, there has been a shift of focus regarding their health, happiness, and the quality of their golden years.
Now, many senior living communities are acknowledging the benefits of crafting for seniors and making sure to add these to weekly activities. Besides providing an activity to keep busy, there are many personal benefits that stem from crafting. Even something as simple as coloring for seniors can aid in more than just passing the time.
Health Benefits of Crafting
There’s a lot that a hobby of crafting can do for you that may not even be that apparent. When you’re crafting, you’re creating, and when you’re creating, you’re using your mind. This stimulates different parts of the brain. And even be used as a source of art therapy for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The creation of visual art forces the creative and cognitive sides of the brain to work together. With this, some seniors experiencing dementia who choose to paint or color can bring them back to happy memories when they were children and may have enjoyed the same activities.
However, there is a lot of smaller benefits to participating in crafts for seniors. Crafting lessens anxiety, reduces feelings of isolation and brings about a general sense of happiness. These activities also help battle depression. Simple activities and crafts contribute to the creation of dopamine, a natural anti-depressant within the body. Art additionally helps build confidence and gives a sense of purpose. Being able to complete a project helps people feel like they can accomplish things. This pastime can bring seniors together. As it’s never too late to form friendships.
As for the body physically, arts and crafts aren’t exactly a full-body workout. But they do move joints in the hands and fingers, and often elbows. Depending on the type, there can be a lot of movement. Painting, for example, involves a lot of arm motion and a concentration of body and mind. But no matter what the activity, arts, and crafts are an excellent way to keep blood flowing and the body moving, even on days when you don’t feel up to exercising.
However, crafting may not be as easy as it once used to be. As you age, dexterity does become limited, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are ways around this though. The first and probably most important is patience. It’s not all about getting things done quickly but instead to engage the mind and the hands while enjoying the process of creation. Most people believe they must give up certain past times as they experience muscle fiber loss resulting in decreased dexterity. This often means that they must give up hobbies that bring them great joy. But because of this tendency to reduce activity, it is essential for aging adults to find new enjoyable activities or projects that can improve their dexterity while stimulating their creativity.
Next, be sure to block out enough time for the project. You don’t have to finish it in one sitting, while you probably just want to see the finished product, you don’t want to feel rushed while crafting. Instead, think of creating art as therapy. Enjoy your time and embrace a leisurely pace. And finally, when choosing craft projects, avoid using sharp objects, like knives and needles, or hot objects like glue guns or irons. With limited dexterity, there is a higher risk of accidents.
Crafting at Brightview
At Brightview, we make it our priority to keep our residents busy and always try to find new enjoyable hobbies for everyone. One of the most significant things we work on is, finding a way for our residents to find a way to express their selves through art.
We offer many different art sessions and craft activities throughout the month and always make sure to vary the activities. We want to help our residents create something they can be proud of. One of our favorite examples is what we’re doing at Brightview Perry Hall. We have an art teacher come in once or twice a week and teach classes in addition to other projects put on by our staff. The art from these classes are displayed museum style on our hallways, and the residents love it. In addition to this, we always do a craft show with our residents work where the public can come in and purchase these items. From this event, all proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association
We have also offered a specialized therapy technique called Mneme Art Therapy. This is a multi-sensory therapeutic arts session that uses everyday pleasures such as singing, cross-lateral movement, painting, and storytelling in a unique combination to strengthen and stimulate the brain through creative arts. This program is brought to us by AWBA- Art Without Boundaries Association. It is a professional organization of artists whose heart’s work lies in improving the quality of life for individuals with Autism, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and other related disorders of the brain. Mneme Therapy is a unique combination of creative arts guided by recent scientific findings relating to brain healing and wellness.