What Are the Benefits of Art Therapy for Seniors?

For centuries, people have used art as a nonverbal form of expression to convey deep emotions and thoughts that were too difficult to communicate in words. Now, research indicates that artistic expression may be beneficial to improving brain function, especially among individuals experiencing Alzheimer’s or other forms of memory loss. With an estimated 5,500 art therapists nationwide, the focus on helping individuals express their feelings and emotions through art is growing. So, what are the benefits of experiencing art? How might art therapy help you or your senior loved one? Read on to find out!

How Does Art Improve Brain Function?

While there is still a lot to learn about art therapy and the way it works to help improve brain function, initial research indicates that a person’s cognitive reserve is enhanced when they are involved in making art, as the process of creating or viewing art can help the brain produce new neural pathways as well as thicker, stronger dendrites. This can cause the brain to adapt and restructure to work more efficiently. Art therapy can also help to unlock frozen brain circuits related to speech, memory and even physical movements.

How Does Art Therapy Help Dementia?

Although research is still limited, several studies have focused on exploring how art helps with memory, and the initial conclusions are promising. As mentioned, participating in the creation of art through art therapy can boost brain function to help the mind process information more efficiently. It can also help unlock neural pathways related to memory; for instance, as a person with memory loss begins to paint their childhood home, memories surrounding that home may begin to rise to the surface, allowing the individual to find an alternate route to a misplaced memory.

Art therapy can also help improve behavioral or emotional issues linked to Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss, including anxiety, depression and agitation. In studies from both Japan and Britain, art therapy participants displayed less apathy and more sociable, calm attitudes than their counterparts in control groups.

Overall, art therapy is associated with numerous benefits for individuals with dementia, including the ability to:

  • Increase relaxation
  • Assist in socialization
  • Offer sensory stimulation
  • Promote a stronger sense of identity
  • Provide a feeling of control and elevate self-esteem
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Promote playfulness
  • Nurture spirituality
  • Reduce boredom

Explore Memory Care at Mission Chateau

At Mission Chateau Senior Living Community, we offer individualized memory care plans for you or your loved one, with numerous options for creative outlets through art, movement and music. Our Courtyard Memory Care program incorporates activities that encourage individuals to function as independently as possible while still providing the support and assistance they need. Contact us today to explore our memory care program and see why Mission Chateau is the right fit for you or your senior loved one.