When COVID-19 forced many retirement communities across Australia to close their doors to outside visitors, many residents elected to spend their time getting creative.
For Aveo Lindfield Gardens resident Joan Mors, 91, this meant that with less distractions, she had the freedom to express herself through the more practical side of her art work.
“At the minute I’m making books out of recycled stuff. I’m using paper lace placemats and then the cover is made from the back of a writing pack, using recycled presents and ribbons. I’ve never been more productive.”
While Joan chooses to express herself through the medium of art, there is ample evidence to suggest that the process of painting or drawing, pottery, scrapbooking, movement, performance, art, writing, inventing, recipes or just by trying something new can greatly benefit both physical and mental health for active seniors.
Researchers have identified six features of successful ageing, including having a sense of purpose, interacting with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, being independent and retaining autonomy and overall health.
They say creative activity contributes to successful ageing by giving those over the age of 65 an opportunity for personal growth and the chance to enjoy interacting with others.
Their studies show that by finding your inner spark through these types of creative expression, you will not only be enhancing your cognitive function, but you may also be stabilising your heart rate and hormone levels and stimulating the release of endorphins.
Follow these tips to get your creative juices flowing.
Join a performing arts group
Membership of a creative group has the dual effect of broadening your social network while decreasing your risk of isolation. With both on stage and off stage positions available, there is a role for everyone from lead characters and ensemble parts to front-of-house duties such as selling tickets or costume design. While exploring any form of creative expression is good, joining an amateur theatre or drama group is particularly beneficial when it comes to boosting self-esteem, confidence and independence.
Write your life story
Writing is associated with numerous health benefits including stress relief. Many active seniors consider committing their life stories to paper as a legacy to preserve for future generations. But knowing where or how to start can sometimes prove a bit of a deterrent. There are numerous writing prompts available on the internet or you could also enlist the help of a neighbour or friend to provide valuable feedback and help you improve your self-confidence. You may even like to join a writer’s group, affording you the perfect opportunity to interact with others while extending your social circle.
Practice mindful reflection
Meditation is well known for alleviating anxiety and insomnia but few realise it is also beneficial as a tool to promote creative thinking. Even if you have never meditated before, research shows that meditation triggers the conception of new ideas while mindfulness practice also sharpens the mind and makes it easier to register the novelty and usefulness of your dreams and thought patterns. Just find yourself a quiet place in which to focus on your breath, relax and then allow your thoughts to flow.
Listen to the music
Creativity is not the sole domain of professional artists and musical geniuses alone. Not only is music itself a creative outlet, it can also foster creativity in active seniors just through listening – helping to open up memories, improve communication and enhance moods for stronger mental wellbeing. Consider joining your local choir or ask your Community Manager for help to find local instructors or music groups to help you learn a new instrument.
While pursuing creativity later in life may seem like a daunting task initially, it’s important to remember it is always a worthwhile endeavour.
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