The benefits of arts, craft and gardening therapy for the elderly

Researchers have found that as we age, our participation in the arts and other activities can have a profound positive effect on our physical and mental health.

They have found that this leads to better physical health, fewer visits to the doctor, reduced need for medication, and fewer falls.

For our residents, especially during the Coronavirus Pandemic when we have had to limit or stop visits from friends and family, this has emphasised the importance of continuing to provide mental and physical stimulation.

According to the American researcher Barbara Bagan PhD, art and music therapy can induce psychological and physiological healing and promote well-being.

But there are benefits also for those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases including reducing depression and anxiety.

Studies have shown that art therapy can:

  • improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions
  • foster self-esteem and self-awareness
  • cultivate emotional resilience
  • promote insight
  • enhance social skills
  • reduce and resolve conflicts and distress

There are also many advantages in gardening therapy, which can strengthen bones, muscles and joints and also therapeutic benefits for those whose mobility is limited. Again, studies have shown that the benefits of just being in a garden can help in the reduction of pain, improvement in attention, lessening of stress, modulation of agitation, lowering the need for some medications such as antipsychotics and a reduction of falls.

But being in a garden has also been found to be therapeutic for residents with dementia in increasing their autonomy and inducing a sense of peace and well-being.

Clearly, anything that can stimulate and engage our residents, especially in the current very difficult circumstances, is to be welcomed.