The Art of Resilience: A Creative Brain is a Fit Brain
If one thing complicates aging more than anything else, it’s the aging brain. Keeping the brain fit has been the focus of numerous research centers on aging and eldercare. And you don’t have to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to experience some of the negative effects of an aging brain.
According to the National Institute on Aging: “Changes in the brain, especially those that affect sensory, motor, sleep, cognitive, and emotional functioning, profoundly influence the quality of life of older individuals. Reduced functional capacity not only limits independence but also influences the attitudes of others toward the aging person, affects the individual’s self-image, and often determines the nature and quality of health-care services.”
The brain needs constant cognitive stimulation. Simply put, use it or lose it.
To this end, new research has found that engaging in art activities may help keep the mind resilient. In this small study of new retirees between the ages of 62 and 70, German researchers found those who took a course where they were required to paint or draw something reported a greater sense of strengthened psychological resilience. They were more likely to agree with assertions such as “I can usually find something to laugh about” and “My belief in myself gets me through hard times.”
The researchers noted the possibility that creating art could delay or negate age-related decline in certain cognitive brain functions, such as introspection, memory, and self-monitoring.
In “Creativity and the Aging Brain,” published in Psychology Today a few years back, Shelley Carson, PhD, an instructor and researcher at Harvard University, urges all seniors to find their creative medium. I found the blog interesting because Carson lists several famous artists, writers, and musicians who didn’t get their creative start until much later in life, or who were still producing great work well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s!
I can personally attest to the power of art in the aging population (and the aging brain). In fact, I believe in it so much in my own life, that I serve on the board of four arts organizations: South Arts, a regional arts board in Atlanta; on Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, based in Dallas; the Creative Glass Center of America at Wheaton Village in Millville, NJ, and the Board of Governors of the Speed Museum in Louisville, KY. Other than the Speed, which is mostly comprised of young, active and enthusiastic Louisvillians, and South Arts, which has all the state arts commissioners, and a fine mix of professionals who are still active in their professions, the two boards that serve the glass art community are made of mostly of older retired art collectors. These, many octogenarians and septuagenarians, travel, collect, work for philanthropic causes and enjoy life to its fullest. And, ask any of these collectors about an artist or a particular piece of work, and they can tell you, without hesitation who created the art, and something about the technique with which it was created. In fact, two noted art collectors in Louisville, Adele and Leonard Leight, are well into their 90’s and still as sharp mentally as when we first met over glass art 20 years ago.
Adding items of interest to those who do need care to maintain as active a lifestyle as possible also adds life to their years.
One of the things corecubed does through our MOST program is to create content for our clients, not only to market their businesses, but to help agencies create activities for their caregivers, including arts and dementia programs. We can schedule a live demonstration of MOST for you today.
Let us help your clients paint a better picture for their tomorrow.