Daddy's Christmas Angel

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Creativity and Fitness Can Improve Your Brain

Over the years, I have taught art to students at every age level from pre-school to older adults. I love witnessing their creativity and excitement over their accomplishments. I especially like seeing the joy that art brings into their lives.

For older people, creativity provides a goal, a reason to get up in the morning and go out to an art class or head to an easel or art wall inside their own homes. The creative activity can take the form of painting, sculpture, pottery, jewelry and more. Crocheting and knitting are art-crafting endeavors enjoyed by people of all ages, especially older ones. Some studies show that crafting provides a large benefit but not quite as much as painting.

My mother loved to crochet. She would sit for hours crocheting colorful pieces that she later put together in afghans to give as gifts. Although she did not grow up in a time when physical fitness was stressed as it now is, she kept her brain healthy with the bright strands of yarn dancing on her needle.

A recent syndicated article by Leslie Mann, Tribune Newspapers, describes studies that show the value of doing artwork for people in "their middle and old ages". One Mayo Clinic study found that those who created art during those later years were "73 percent less likely to develop MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment)". (MCI is a problem that can lead to dementia.)

Because people are living longer, the 85-plus age is a fast-growing population segment. It's a group of people who can be inspired because of creative potential or they can be led into depression by those who do not understand their needs for purpose in life.

Recently, I was with a group of older people and found their main topics of conversation were about the drugs they take to control their physical ailments. My doctor wants to prescribe more drugs and is disgruntled because I believe our nation is over-medicated in many instances.

If people are encouraged to take more art classes and more art workshops, I believe they will be happier. They will have less reason for depression. They will need fewer drugs.

Artist Kendra Wadsworth inspires creativity with her abstract mixed media
Coloring books for adults and zentangles (drawing structured patterns) are new interests in our society. These are different forms of art that I suspect can help improve our brain health.

I enjoyed Mann's article which was about a study published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Along with physical fitness, creativity can help us grow happier. We should promote that path.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wonder if writing and music fall into that category of art?

Birgit said...

I love your art table and would love to see what the colour pencils are(Faber-Castill??). I so agree with you about creativity, actually in any form like writing and music (I read what Alex wrote). I also believe a healthy positive attitude. My mom created beautiful art pieces with eggs-Faberge style. She didn't have real gems but she used the famous crystals (sworski-spelling??) and she often made all the interiors, whether they be people, animals, cottages...whatever). Alas she got macular degeneration and she could no longer do that detailed work. It set her back and she became frustrated that she could not see in detail. Combined with a major head injury she suffered when she was 21, smoking and dealing with my brother being a jerk at that time later in her life, I believe escalated the dementia. Thankfully, the wife left him, he returned with his tail between his legs and he visits my mom 3 times a week. I wish she would pick up a brush still and just have fun but she refuses even now and has forgotten that she used to create these beautiful eggs. In the are right! Take in the art in all forms and enjoy every moment

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've always enjoyed artistic projects and hope I always will. It sounds like my brain needs it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Monti - it's stimulation that's essential ... some people with love one thing, others another. Drugs are just not on ... I simply don't pop pills ... dwelling on the negative doesn't help either. Art really does help, as too music ... people often don't help themselves though. Cheers Hilary

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Alex, I believe both music and writing fit into this category.

Birgit, it sounds as if your mom had far too many issues with which to deal. Maybe art delayed her dementia. Perhaps you can get her to paint loosely and abstractly. You keep on with all those lovely things you produce.

Diane, you are extremely creative. I love your photos!

Hilary, yes, you must be motivated. Anyone who wants depression will get it. If one is motivated to make art, it can change a life.

Thank all of you for commenting!