Using Creativity for Mental Stimulation and Healthy Aging

When you think of making healthy choices that contribute to your overall wellness, you probably think of a balanced, nutrient-dense diet and plenty of physical exercise. While these are both important elements that contribute to healthy aging, there are other ways to improve your overall health. For example, did you know that creativity plays a role in healthy aging by providing crucial mental stimulation?

As reported in Innovative Crossroads: The Intersection of Creativity, Health, and Aging, “programs ranging from the performing arts to storytelling have shown a wide range of benefits on participant health, both physical and mental, and quality of life.”

At Vivage, the health and wellness of every individual that stays with us is our highest priority. It is because of this. We are sharing how creativity can be used to promote mental stimulation and health in individuals.

Benefits of Creativity to Health

The brain benefits when both the left side and right side are used simultaneously. According to Gene D. Cohen, author of Research on Creativity and Aging: The Positive Impacts of the Arts on Health and Illness, “virtually every form of art provides optimal utilization of the benefits of simultaneous brain involvement – optimally integrating left-and-right-brain capacities.” Participating in creative activities improves cognitive functioning and can delay cognitive decline by protecting neurons, the building blocks of the brain, and stimulating the growth of new neurons.

Creative activities also increase socialization among individuals and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, a concern for many aging individuals. Many of the creative arts, a choir for instance, requires a group setting. When an individual is an active member of the group, he or she can to connect with peers. Isolation and feelings of loneliness often lead to a number of mental health concerns such as depression and stress. Participants in performance and art-making programs have shown lower rates of depression, higher morale, and improved mood.

When you complete a task or project you have been working on, how do you feel? Accomplished? Proud? The same goes for creative activities! Creating something out of nothing provides individuals with a sense of empowerment and increases confidence, especially if they are new to the art medium. 

Gene D. Cohen has observed that a sense of control or mastery over a task leads to empowerment. Once an individual has mastered one activity, he or she feels confident in the fact that they can master another activity that they never thought was possible. “The arts provide some of the best opportunities to experience a new sense of control or mastery. In the arts, the opportunities to create something new and beautiful are endless and offer an enormous sense of satisfaction and empowerment.”

According to Psychology Today, “studies indicate that creative self-expression and exposure to the arts have wide-ranging effects on not only cognitive and psychosocial health, but also physical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, various forms of dementia and cancer.” Creative activities that require you to use your hands, such as painting, have been shown to improve motor functioning and hand dexterity.

Moreover, multiple studies and research have shown that participating in creative endeavors promotes healthy aging and leads to fewer visits to the doctor, a decreased number of accidental falls, and a lower amount of prescription medications

While observing creative activities and arts still has some health benefits, actually engaging and using your creativity is the only way to ensure you reap all of the mental stimulation and benefits creativity offers. 

“Our capacity to actually ‘create’ is where we begin to live more fully, experience transformation, and recover the core of what it means to heal. It is your authentic expression through art-making, music, song, movement, writing, and other forms of arts-based imagination that are central to the equation of why creativity is a wellness practice.” – Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D.

Vivage’s Life Enrichment Programs

Vivage is committed to promoting individuals’ overall health and wellness, no matter the length of their stay with us. We offer a variety of wellness and life enrichment programs throughout all of our communities that are designed to satisfy many interests. Contact us to learn more or to find the right community for you.


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