Do Creative Activities Promote Healthy Aging?

June 30, 2018 | BY PHS Staff

Much of the advice around self-care for seniors centers on the body. That’s understandable, given that physical health prolongs life, and physical activity wards off disease, depression, and many other things that can take the shine off our golden years. However, it’s equally important to take a holistic approach to elderly care services and consider the mental and emotional component of aging. We can’t roll back the clocks on our bodies, but might creativity help keep our minds younger? The answer, as Preferred HealthStaff found out, may surprise you.

Creativity and Aging

Let’s start by answering the central question with an emphatic “yes.” Several studies, including one conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, and a larger meta-study undertaken by Psychology Today, show several benefits to staying or becoming creative in older age, underlining the idea that creativity is a critical component of senior care. Among the key benefits:

  • Lower incidence of depression
  • Reduced numbers of falls and doctor’s visits
  • Improved immune function
  • Feelings of connection and joy
  • A brighter outlook on life

How can you benefit from a bit of creativity in your life?

Rekindle Your Creativity

When we were young, creativity was as natural as breathing. We drew, danced, sang, and wrote with abandon. A cardboard box could be a castle, a car, or a suit of armor. Our stories, whether we wrote them down or just imagined them, could take us as far as imagination would allow. No wonder childhood seems enchanted when we look back on it. The truth is, we’ve all always had the capacity to do those things. Most of us stopped because responsibilities set in, or because there wasn’t any money in it. Try something new, and remember the old maxim that “anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first.”

Start Where You Are, With What You Have

A recent summit on creativity and aging found a socioeconomic component to creativity, where those with more money were more apt to take up creative pursuits. To some degree, this is understandable; you’re not likely to invest in an expensive digital piano or an electric kiln when you’re on a fixed income. Don’t let that be an obstacle. There are many ways to find artistic outlets that won’t break the bank!

Explore New Options

Some of you reading this will be reminded of an old hobby (or even a profession) you gave up at some point. If that’s you, get reacquainted with that old love. But even if you don’t think you have a creative bone in your body, try something new. A book, a night class, or a YouTube video can be a gateway to a new passion.

Show Your Work

At its best, art and its close cousin craft are social. We can benefit from those connections at every stage in the creative process, whether we’re creating collaboratively, keeping each other company while knitting or quilting, teaching what we know, or exhibiting our work. Learn, teach, and share!

When we’re young, we don’t yet know what isn’t possible. Recapturing that sense of play, wonder, and creativity isn’t just kid stuff; it’s a vital way to stay young at heart. Whether you need transportation to a painting class, help shopping for craft supplies, or personal assistance organizing that cluttered guest bedroom into a makeshift studio, Preferred HealthStaff provides in-home care services to help seniors in Pennsylvania and West Virginia create something important: a life with meaning.