Arts and crafts are not just for children; people of all ages can enjoy, especially seniors. As you retire, you have more hours to fill in a typical day. For too long, the answer to the question of how to spend those hours hasn’t incorporated much. As a society, we’ve failed to encourage older adults to explore new hobbies and passions. But that’s wrong, unfair, and leads to a stifling of the many good years people have left. As the new wave of seniors begin to retire, there has been a shift of focus regarding their health, happiness, and the quality of their golden years.
Now, many senior living communities are acknowledging the benefits of crafting for seniors and making sure to add these to weekly activities. Besides providing an activity to keep busy, there are personal benefits that stem from crafting. Even something as simple as coloring for seniors can aid with motor skills.
There’s a lot that a hobby of crafting can do for you that may not even be that apparent. When you’re crafting, you’re creating, and when you’re creating, you’re using your mind. This stimulates different parts of the brain. And crafting can even be used as a source of art therapy for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Creating visual art forces the creative and cognitive sides of the brain to work together. Some seniors experiencing dementia who choose to paint or color can bring them back to happy memories when they were children and may have enjoyed the same activities.
However, there is a lot of smaller benefits to participating in crafts for seniors. Crafting lessens anxiety, reduces feelings of isolation and brings about a general sense of happiness. These activities also help battle depression. Simple activities and crafts contribute to the creation of dopamine, a natural anti-depressant within the body. These chemicals aid in battling depression. Art additionally helps build confidence and give a sense of purpose. Being able to complete a project helps people feel like they can accomplish things. This pastime can bring seniors together. It’s never too late to form friendships. Finding people who share the same passion will foster a feeling of togetherness.
As for the body physically, arts and crafts aren’t exactly a full-body workout. But they move joints in the hands and fingers, and often elbows. Depending on the type, there can be a lot of movement. Painting, for example, involves a lot of arm motion and a concentration of body and mind. But no matter what the activity, arts, and crafts are an excellent way to keep blood flowing and the body moving, even on days when you don’t feel up to exercising.
However, crafting may not be as easy as it once used to be. As you age, dexterity does become limited, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are ways around this though. The first and probably most important is patience. It's not all about getting things done quickly but instead to engage the mind and the hands while enjoying the process of creation. Most people believe they must give up certain past times as they experience muscle fiber loss resulting in decreased dexterity. This often means that they must give up hobbies that bring them great joy. But because of this tendency to decrease activity, it is essential for aging adults to find new enjoyable activities or projects that can improve their dexterity while stimulating their creativity.
Next, be sure to block out enough time for the project. While ethey don’t have to finish it in one sitting, you don’t want to feel rushed while crafting. Instead, think of creating art as therapy. Enjoy your time and embrace a leisurely pace. Finally, when choosing craft projects for your loved one, avoid using sharp objects, like knives and needles, or hot objects like glue guns or irons. With limited dexterity, there is a higher risk of accidents.
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