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How creativity can help with ageing

Published on 16 October 2023 12:57 PM

It's well documented that engaging in the creative arts can be positive for wellbeing. Studies show that the arts can reduce stress and positively affect brain function. And in a workshop environment, they bring an opportunity to socialise. Not to mention that the arts can be an engaging form of self-expression.

In the context of ageing, arts workshops can be a powerful tool to improve the lives of older people. Some of the challenges that older people can face, such as loneliness and dementia, can be relieved through the arts. In a dementia context, creativity engages the brain, and gives people a chance for an identity separate from their diagnosis. Regarding loneliness, an arts workshop is a social event that unites people under a shared interest.

There’s a developing body of research that suggests engagement with the arts can help people with dementia. This is exemplified by Arts for Health's handbook, `Dementia & Imagination', which centres on arts workshops for older people with dementia.

The workshops took place in care homes and in NHS settings. Carers, artists and residents commented on how positive the experience was for all concerned.  A spouse of one participant commented, `…his attitude towards the future has improved in the way that he is more positive and no longer dwells on 'the prognosis!'. Another participant commented, `It’s very soothing to take part in something. You feel you are achieving something. It’s not completely gone - your mind’s not completely gone'.

On the alleviation of loneliness, the World Health Organisation’s report, `What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being?’ details the myriad benefits of engaging with the arts. One choice line states, that `Social interaction while participating in the arts can reduce loneliness and lack of social support, which are both linked with adverse physiological responses, cognitive decline, functional and motor decline, mental illness and premature mortality’.

These examples show the potential of arts workshops to empower older people with a dementia diagnosis and to socially connect isolated older people.

At our Brunswick Village day centre, we are running a selection of creative workshops from now through to next year.

We’re currently running a six-week course `Create a Paper Mache Alejbrie'. Alebrijes are brightly coloured sculptures of fantastical creatures which are popular in Mexican folk art. Each week we will work together following each stage of the creative process, designing, sculpting and painting participants' Alejbrie. The course runs from the 10th of October until the 14th of November.

If you have an older person in your life who wants to get creative in this workshop, or any of our forthcoming workshops, keep an eye on out on here, our Facebook and Twitter pages, or contact Stephen Davis on 07776994702.Alejbrie