Having a creative outlet is important, no matter a person’s age.
According to Jean Hood, retired marketing and community relations director for Hamlet Retirement Community in Chagrin Falls, and Jessica Kulczycki, community life and CARE director at Judson Services, Inc. in Cleveland, seniors can experience varied benefits while participating in art-related activities.
“We have all levels of care here at Judson, but sometimes it’s beneficial physically and health-wise to just be able to come down to the art center for the change in environment,” Kulczycki said. “They’re dealing with a lot and there are a lot of changes in their life, so art gives them an avenue to express themselves or distract their mind and create something.”
As for a senior’s mental health, Kulczycki said art gives individuals a way to express what they might be dealing with. At Judson, residents who have a history in art have the opportunity to showcase their work. For others, it’s a good way to discover a new past time.
At Hamlet Retirement Community, the community has a partnership with Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls. Within this partnership, residents are offered a watercolor class for all levels taught by VAC instructor Darlene Jackson. Additionally, residents also can display their work at VAC.
“This is a real art class that enables our assisted living and independent living residents to build their skills,” Hood explained. “We strongly believe that this creative experience of a real art class over time is more beneficial than a one-time craft class to help improve and stimulate mental abilities and talents in seniors. The works that are created are quite remarkable.”
The professionals said seniors benefit from participating in most, if not all, types of art.
“We offer everything under the sun, and it’s person-centered,” Kulczycki said. “So, if someone has always been a potter, we start them with pottery. We’ve seen that kind of morph them into picking up another medium. But, just offering any art material is a great place to start. There is so much variety, and I think that seniors love that.”
Though Hamlet Retirement Community’s art class is only watercolors, residents can choose the composition. This can range from still life, landscapes, seascapes, photographs and architecture to florals.
“The weekly class gives residents something to think about during the week about what they want to create,” Hood added.
When participating in art-centered activities, Hood and Kulczycki said a family should show support and interest.
“Art and music activities enable residents to reflect on their past, enjoy the present and strive for the future,” Hood said. “When families are helping find senior housing for their parents, we feel it is most important to look for an organization that offers strong cultural activities for residents.”
Kulczycki added, “It is so beneficial to (a senior’s) health and well-being, and art covers the mind, body and spirit. There is also the socialization experience and I’ve seen it bridge gaps within families. They can communicate and engage together. It can be hard because the senior’s world is a little smaller, but that is a nice way to slow everyone down and be together.”