Few activities stimulate the mind and benefit the body, quite like making art. That’s true for any age group. But nurturing creativity by making art can be especially rewarding for people in their older years.
It’s an ageist misconception that creativity is for young people. Studies suggest otherwise; people can be creative at any age. The ways that people are creative as they age may change, but the capacity to be creative never fades.
The sculptor Louise Bourgeois is an excellent example. She made what is arguably her best sculptures after she turned 80.
Anyone Can Be an Artist
You don’t have to be Louise Bourgeois to make art in your old age, however. Practically anyone can make art when they allow themselves to be creative.
If you’ve painted or played a musical instrument in the past, it’ll come back to you. It may take some time but creativity, like writing a bicycle, is something you never unlearn.
And even if you’ve never painted or played a musical instrument in your life, it’s never too late to learn.
Health Benefits of Creativity
Creativity positively impacts your health. When you nurture your creativity, you nurture your body and brain.
Those who make art or do other creative activities in old age show not only improved hand dexterity but also:
- Lower rates of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and stress
- Improved mood, confidence levels, self-esteem, and morale
Those aren’t the only benefits of being creative in your old age. By taking art classes, writing workshops, or playing in a band or acting in a show, you’re nurturing your creativity among the company of others, which is to say, you’re actively participating in a community, and community is excellent for brain health.
Creative communities are one of the benefits offered by retirement homes in London, as well as other age-in-place residences.
Indeed, one study conducted by two psychologists at Lund University in Sweden demonstrated that when older adults are creative, their attitudes to illness are less defensive.
Another study even suggested that increased creativity is associated with decreased mortality risk.
What Art Should You Make?
People tend to prefer art forms over others. One person may prefer painting over music, another writing overacting. What matters is that you pick the form you most enjoy.
When you enjoy the process of making art, you enter what psychologists call a “state of flow.”
A flow state is when you become so immersed in a creative activity that you focus far more than usual. That is to say, you “hyperfocus.” You focus so intensely that you may not be aware of time passing or even aware of your body.
A state of flow can feel euphoric and relaxing. And it can lead to feeling a deep sense of accomplishment.
If you’ve played music in the past, then taking up your instrument(s) again may empower you to enter a state of flow.
But, again, you don’t have to have practised an art form in the past to enjoy and reap the benefits of making art now. Anyone can make art. You just have to try.