Aging adults of retirement age hopefully have a long list of new things they want to try or learn, places they want to explore or people they hope to reconnect with when life has slowed down a bit. And research tells us that learning a new skill (or rekindling a former passion) can help protect the aging brain against cognitive decline and dementia. Tapping into your creative side can also be an important way to keep the brain nimble in older age while providing opportunities for important social interaction.
According to Psychology Today, researchers have found that a flexible, creative and active mind ages more successfully. By maintaining a sense of curiosity and openness to new ideas as well as the ability to shift mental focus, creative older adults can continue to stay relevant and engaged in a rapidly changing social environment.
Understanding the important role creativity plays in aging well, 20 museums across the United States have been slated to offer art-making learning opportunities for older adults that will provide instruction to help seniors master a new skill while engaging socially. Courses may include Collage, 3D Printed Jewelry, Ekphrastic Poetry, Healing Textiles, Mixed Media or Book Arts. The programs are funded by Aroha Philanthropies, Seedling Vitality Arts in Museums in cooperation with the American Alliance of Museums and Lifetime Arts.
Whether it’s creating visual art, writing poetry, dancing or composing music, participating in the arts in older age not only provides mental stimulation, it can also be a source of important social interaction with people of different backgrounds and ages. Social isolation and loneliness among seniors is a growing health concern as many older adults age alone. By connecting with others in a meaningful way creating art together, the mind stays sharp and older adults can continue to connect with their communities.