As individuals age, they may experience thinking and memory problems. While some elderly people may only have mild cognitive impairment, others may end up with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. One way to ease these problematic symptoms is through art therapy and crafting.
Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Dementia
Dementia isn’t actually a disease; it is a group of symptoms related to loss of cognitive abilities. A person with dementia typically has difficulties with two or more brain functions. Some examples are impaired language, faulty judgment, and memory problems, which can lead to communication breakdowns, getting lost, and forgetting to pay bills. Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is a progressive disease for which there is no cure.
Engaging the mind can protect building blocks in the brain, also known as neurons, from dying off. One way to creatively engage the brain is through arts and crafts. Individuals who participate in some sort of artwork or crafting can stimulate growth of new neurons and keep the existing ones from perishing. Art therapy can uncover artistic abilities in individuals, even when short-term memory has become impaired. It can also decrease confusion, bring happiness, and improve quality of life.
Encouraging Arts and Crafts
To stave off progressive mental impairment or ease dementia symptoms, caregivers and family members can encourage their loved ones to do some artwork and crafting. Some possibilities for creative endeavors include painting, drawing, knitting, collage, and ceramics. It’s important to provide safe, high quality art supplies, and to encourage them to make things from their childhood or favorite place or holiday. Displaying what they create can give them an enhanced sense of pleasure and accomplishment.
Art Helps People Communicate
Studies have shown that elderly individuals with impaired cognitive abilities can communicate through art. Even though individuals have lost some of their language abilities, they may be able to sketch persons, places, and things, in order to communicate. Art therapy can reduce aggressive behavior because it can reduce the frustration of not being able to connect verbally.
Dance and Music as Art
Other art forms that can help seniors with dementia are dancing and music. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can reduce stress and revive memories when they hear, sing, and move to music. Music and dancing use different parts of the brain than language, and can be empowering and bring joy to the elders and their family members.
Therapeutic artistic endeavors can help those suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or mild cognitive impairment. It can also ease the burden of the caregivers because overall, art has the capacity to heal.