Art projects are tried and true remedies for many types of ailments. Senior citizens, especially those housed in nursing homes for long stretches of time, are often in need of engaging, interactive projects to provide a creative outlet. Art can relieve stress, fight off loneliness and depressive moods, and help to promote healthy eating and sleeping habits.
Painting with vibrant watercolors and other materials can be an immensely therapeutic activity. Senior citizens can be encouraged to paint scenes from memories they hold dear, using old photographs for reference, if they like. Paints can be applied to almost any type of surface, so the creative potential is boundless. Seniors can work on a group project if they share a living space, or paint in solitary quiet to enjoy the tranquility and relaxation.
Using clay to manually sculpt figures is a proven way to increase motor activity, calm and focus the mind, and provide exercise and enhanced hand-eye coordination. Manipulating clay to form sculptures requires concentration and persistence. It is a great way to boost self-esteem and inspire confidence in budding artists. Seniors may choose to work on shaping small figurines and collecting them, or making larger scale, realistic shapes.
Creative writing is an invaluable tool for preserving memories and activating the brain through rigorous and enjoyable exercise. Storytelling is an age-old art with limitless room for improvisation and inventiveness. Elderly persons are in need of activities that provoke them to reminisce and retain self-awareness; fun writing exercises can become precious preserved records. Poems, short stories and autobiographies provide opportunities for imaginative explorations into the psyche. Stories can be illustrated with sketches and paintings, and books can be bound together with rope for a timeless look.
Making scrapbooks is a way to preserve small mementos, letters and pictures from the past. This activity leaves a lot of room for collaboration with friends and family members. Scrapbooks can be designed by the artist in any style or configuration. Glue, markers, paints, construction paper, glitter and other materials can be used to decorate each book of memories. Where scissors and precision work is involved, elders with arthritis or similar afflictions should be assisted.
Lauren Tyree started writing professionally in 2010 as a staff writer for Poptimal. She has penned articles and essays since childhood. Tyree earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology at Vassar College and her Master of Arts in communication at Regent University.