Creativity and the Aging Brain

Creativity is essential to the aging mind. Increasing studies are showing that it has a tremendously positive effect on the aging brain. Creativity can foster neuron connectivity, which means it supports brain health. By stimulating cognitive functioning, creative projects can benefit those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

A study on creativity and aging found that creativity has a positive impact on health. Individuals that participated in art programs showed better health; they visited the doctor less, they relied on fewer medications, and their mental health was better. They were also more independent. This caused researchers to conclude that older adults that participate in a community arts program are less likely to need to rely on long-term care. Their mood and confidence improved, and sometimes even their personal relationships experienced a boost. In some cases, the heart rate and hormone levels stabilized.

The physical and mental benefits of creativity in older adults are demonstrated no matter the creative outlet that is being tapped into. Whether it’s dancing, writing, inventing, cooking, or trying something totally new, these activities will improve mental flexibility. Creativity in later life—with a mature, wise, and fully developed mind—can lead to all sorts of brilliant discoveries.

Many older adults may feel like they aren’t creative or they don’t have the space to explore their creative side. Even if older adults don’t consider themselves particularly creative, experts suggest they simply allow their mind to wander and think outside the box. They should imagine themselves with no creative limits. Older adults should give themselves permission to explore potential passions that they may not have considered before. Try writing, painting, or drawing. Taking an emotion they’re experiencing—joy, sadness, boredom—and channeling it into a project can be extremely motivating. Mastering a creative project can be empowering and give one a sense of comfort in pursing new creative challenges.

If older adults are struggling to pursue creative projects on their own, they should consider heading to a community arts program. They’ll meet people who will encourage them to explore their creative side, and they might even make a friend or two. This social engagement is especially important in later life.

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