Happy Aging Through Creativity

Happy Aging Through Creativity

Anna Mary Roberston Moses was 76 years old when she picked up a paintbrush for the first time. Attribution to Kimberly RecorDiscovered by an art collector who was passing through her town, Moses, who became known world-wide as “Grandmother Moses”, soon became one of the art world’s most sought-after artist, with many of her paintings hanging in museums all over the world, including Paris and Vienna.

As you enter your older years, many of your hobbies will change, often due to circumstances beyond your control. Creativity is unique it is something that is driven by will and determination. Whether it’s painting, writing, singing, or creating through another medium, there is a power that lies within using your imagination to produce something.

The National Endowments for the Arts commissioned a study in 2001 to measure the impact of a cultural, artistic program on people, aged 65 and older. The results were staggering. Those participating in the cultural program not only reported having overall better health, with less doctor visits, need for over-the-counter medicine, and falls, but also had a significant improvement in mental health. The cultural program participants also reported an increase in the number of activities they were participating in, showing that being part of a creative community could help build a stronger social connection.

So how exactly does creative expression help you age better? This question can be answered in five simple parts:

It Empowers You
With age, we lose control over so much in our life. Retirement often leaves us with a sense of uncertainty, so much of our identity being rooted in our “work”. By engaging in a creative endeavor you assign yourself something to be connected to, something to find pride in. With mastery and dedication, comes a sense of confidence. This self-induced self-esteem boost will spill over into other parts of your life, giving you strength, hope, and, most importantly, happiness.

It Keeps Your Brain On Its Toes
There is much research that shows that when the brain is stimulated by activities or surroundings, it forms new synapses (contact points between brain cells), which makes for higher brain activity. Since creative activities are sustainable and continuously challenging, they can help you stay mentally alert and sound.

It Helps You Overcome Adversity
Creativity can alter the way you handle problems, allowing you to have a fresh perspective that keeps you resilient. This strength can help you transcend adversity, by helping you move through any tragedy or losses you may be facing.

It Helps You Stay Social
There have been numerous studies on the positive effects of social engagement on general health. Many creative activities provide opportunity for social interaction, whether it be singing in a choir, attending a fiber arts group, joining a poetry club, or taking a painting class. By being able to bond over a shared hobby, you can build lasting friendships.

It Keeps You Healthy
Scientists have long been studying the effects of positive thoughts on the immune system. The positive feelings your body gets from feeling in control trigger your immune system into creating immune-boosting cells, which help ward of disease and keep you healthy.

By immersing yourself in something you love, something that brings you joy, you can change your life. Maybe you won’t find the same sort of critical success that Grandma Moses did, but by empowering yourself through creativity, you may be able to change your health and your outlook on life for the better.

If you’re interested in learning more about creative aging you can visit The National Center for Creative Aging – Click Here.

Author: Kimberly Recor, staff writer at Designing Brighter Tomorrows

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