~ by Elissa Gould, Art Therapist
Successful aging is often linked to a person’s level of activity and engagement. Naturally, the degree of to which the activity is personally meaningful improves their satisfaction, as does how they are feeling as they navigate the aging process. Though aging can be a positive experience, it often come with unexpected physical and cognitive challenges. For many, it can become difficult for an individual to participate in activities that were at one time very meaningful.
Creating Positive Experiences
Art Therapy has been found to support positive experiences of aging. It can decrease anxiety, frustration, and symptoms of depression, as well as increasing self-esteem. Mood is improved when people can safely share experiences with their peers in a therapeutically-guided environment.
Creativity plays a significant role in brain health, too, especially in early childhood and late adulthood. Two components impacted by creativity are neuroplasticity and the development of cognitive reserve. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change throughout a person’s life. Cognitive reserve is the mind’s ability to resist damage to the brain. Though Art Therapy does not have the power to reverse or prevent cognitive decline, actively engaging in a creative practice can aid in slowing the progression.
A Person-centered Approach
Art making can be intimidating. Often, someone comes to Art Therapy with no previous art experience, carrying with them a traditional understanding of what makes art “good”; i.e.: Van Gogh, Monet. Other times, someone comes with a background in fine art and an acute awareness of the loss of their abilities.
Through the integration of positive psychology, the focus of Art Therapy is to praise the individual’s personal successes. By encouraging playfulness and positivity, emphasis is placed on the process and quality of experience that comes from making art rather than the finished product. The primary role of Art Therapist is to support the individual’s creative experience, regardless of the person’s artistic ability.
Enriching Lives through Many Art Forms
The Osborn’s Life Enrichment department offers a variety of Art Therapy programs to residents in Assisted Living, Memory Care(H.O.P.E. Center), and Skilled Nursing (Pavilion). Residents have the opportunity to explore ceramics, painting, photography, print making, drawing, collage, weaving, sculpture, nature art and so much more. Poetry workshops and art history, “Art Spotlights” create opportunities for reminiscence, critique, and the sharing of ideas.
The Osborn’s Open Art Studio, located in the Ceramic Shop, is available for individuals who want to explore independent art projects under the guidance of an Art Therapist. The Open Studio format allows participants the opportunity to experiment more freely with various art media and sustain larger projects.
Creativity expression takes as many forms as there are individuals who wish to express themselves. The Art Therapist can be the spark that ignites the creative spirit in all of us as we grow older.
Learn about Art Therapy
Art Therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship. (Source: The American Art Therapy Association, www.arttherapy.org.)
If you have any questions about the programs offered at The Osborn, or would like to learn more about Art Therapy, please contact Life Enrichment Art Therapist Elissa Gould at ext. 8405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Continuum of Care
The Osborn is a private, non-profit continuum of care community that offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Short-term Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation. For more information, or to schedule a tour, contact Georgia Woodbine (914-925-8243) or email@example.com.
Osborn Home Care provides home care services in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. For more information, call 914-925-8221 (Westchester) or 203-641-7683 (Fairfield).