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November 11, 2021

Creating art can improve memory and benefit those in senior communities

By: Country Meadows | Memory Care

For hundreds of years, people have found ways to express themselves through art. Today research is demonstrating that creating art has benefits for residents in senior communities living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, research suggests that artistic engagement at senior communities may help to ease common behavioral symptoms of dementia like anxiety, agitation and depression. It may also boost mood and self-esteem, and possibly help stimulate memory. By having a beneficial effect on those with Alzheimer’s living in senior communities, caregivers may find relief as well.

In the best retirement communities and active adult communities, residents enjoy creating numerous art projects from painting to crafting. In every level of care, providing these opportunities for residents is therapeutic, especially for individuals who require memory support.

“Art can be fun, and evidence shows it can have positive results for individuals living with dementia in multiple areas, specifically in the areas of connection and engagement,” says Genee Atwater, CTRS, Connections Dynamic Living coordinator for Country Meadows Retirement Communities.

As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist providing senior care services, Atwater uses creativity, fun and games, backed by science, to help strengthen residents’ cognitive abilities. As part of the creative curriculum at senior communities, Atwater presents various art projects from painting to collage to crafts. “These projects offer physical benefits including fine motor coordination as well as the cognitive benefits of decision making, choosing colors, tools and coming up with ideas. That’s all very useful for their cognition and self-esteem; they can do more than they realize,” she says.

This is very true for a senior community services resident, Dottie, who says, “It makes me feel good that I can do this; it builds my confidence.”

Multiple studies confirm positive effects for participants living with dementia in senior communities who create art. One study observed an increase in spontaneous communication by participants. “Play is so important for neuroplasticity of the brain. We have learned that the brain continues to develop, it doesn’t stop,” Atwater explains. “I do art projects so they can have new and novel experiences. It helps to create new pathways in the brain.”

She continues. “There are really difficult things about dementia, and we have some residents [at senior communities] who really struggle with anxieties and behaviors, but that doesn’t mean that they are not enjoying themselves and not participating in things. There is so much that they are still doing and still part of and we celebrate every small victory.”

Country Meadows has nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus location in Frederick, Maryland. Often referred to as one of the best retirement communities in the area, we offer a wide range of services to serve a variety of resident needs. The services within our senior communities include restorative care, rehabilitation, personal care and assisted living, memory support and independent living. If you or a loved one are beginning the retirement planning journey and would like more information about our senior communities, please contact us today. Our co-workers can provide details on the services we offer, help you to schedule a tour of our senior communities and answer any other questions you might have.


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