How art impacts health and wellness

Jan. 7—As we age, it becomes more and more vital to maintain our minds and our bodies.

Participating in artistic or creative endeavors allows seniors the opportunity to engage the right side of their brand and, often, socialize in a community setting.

Singing, playing an instrument, creating visual art, ceramics, and more are all ways that seniors can get their minds and hands moving to promote health and wellness.

“There’s a pressing need to develop novel, sustainable, and cost-effective approaches to improve the lives of older adults,” said Julene K. Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. “Singing in a community choir may be a unique approach to promote the health of diverse older adults by helping them remain active and engaged. It may even reduce health disparities.”

Participating in the choir for six months created reduced feelings of loneliness and increased interest in life, according to Johnson’s study.

“The study showed increased interest in life because singing in the choir provided a regular, structured activity for participants,” she said. “Access to regular activities in diverse, low-income communities is vital for older adults to remain active and engaged in their community.”

Researchers at Northwestern University have turned to theatre as a way to cope with dementia.

“The Memory Ensemble is for people newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia who are looking for opportunities to engage in programs that fit their needs,” said Darby Morhardt, Ph.D., Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core Leader at Northwestern’s Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease.

This program does not seek to slow the onset and progression of memory loss, but instead to improve the lives of memory care patients.

Participation in theatre has been shown to improve mood, decrease anxiety, and increase a sense of belonging, normalcy, and destigmatization in the early stages of this study.

While a lot of research regarding the impact of engaging in the arts and creative has on health and wellness is still relatively new, studies are showing promising results.

Many senior centers will offer community art endeavors including, but not limited to: art classes, music groups, dance classes, and more with the specific purpose of fostering community and maximizing health and wellness, particularly of the mind.

The Athens Activity Center offers Dancercise on Mondays and Wednesdays, live music on Fridays, and numerous other creative activities and events throughout each month.

This winter, find new ways to engage your mind and body by creating works of art.

Taylor Lane, an artist herself, is the author of the Artists’ Angle column. Dedicated to the preservation of Appalachian culture and artistry and the advancement of the fine arts in vulnerable communities, Lane writes stories showcasing various art forms and local artists, as well as her own art, and how it relates to Appalachian culture and history.