Whether it’s viewing art in a museum or taking simple pleasure in placing brush to canvas, art has a way of liberating our need for self-expression by communicating in ways that words cannot always describe.
As experts in healthy aging confirm, expressing ourselves through art is not just good for the soul, it is also very beneficial to our minds and bodies.
Creative artistic pursuits provide older adults with multiple benefits, not the least of which is enhanced cognitive function.
“One of the wonderful things about art is that you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy it and to appreciate its many benefits,” says Scott Richardson, Senior Director of Resident Services at Williamsburg Landing, a leading continuing care retirement community in Williamsburg, VA.
“The enjoyment of various art forms is in the creating and the opportunity for self-expression, not in the ‘artistic merit’ of the final product. As they say, the joy is in the journey and not necessarily the final destination. Or as William Shakespeare so eloquentlystated, ‘Joy’s soul lies in the doing.’
“The arts enable us to express what we experience in life and to share its special moments in uniquely personal ways.”
Artistic Expression Gives Voice to What We See and Feel
As noted by the Joyful Heart Foundation, creative expression enables us to communicate our inner selves to the world around us. It has intrinsic value and connects us to others by sharing a story. It gives voice to the knowledge inside us about what we need to find our joy.
Artistic expression can be enjoyed in a variety of forms such as:
- Painting and drawing
- Needle work
- Creative writing
According to Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources, one of the most engaging features of the creative process is that it facilitates moments of vitality and connection for those who choose to participate in it.
He says, “The arts address the idea of an aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which the senses are operating at their peak, when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you are experiencing, when you are fully alive.”
The Positive Effects of Art as We Age
Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University, found that the arts have a positive effect on health and illness as we age.
Reflecting on Dr. Cohen’s extensive research into the benefits of expressive art forms, Barbara Bagan, PhD, ATR-BC says in her article, “Aging: What’s Art Got to Do With It?,” “I can attest to the significance, efficiency and effectiveness of expressive art activities. Such activities offer a wide range of benefits, including the following:
- Helping individuals relax
- Providing a sense of control
- Reducing depression and anxiety
- Assisting in socialization and encouraging playfulness and a sense of humor
- Improving brain cognition
- Offering sensory stimulation and reducing boredom
- Fostering a stronger sense of identity and increasing self-esteem
- Nurturing spirituality
A Life Enriched Through the Arts
Adds, Scott, “At Williamsburg Landing, we fully embrace the life-enriching value of the arts. Here, you’ll find a vibrant community that is made even more lively through art, music, opera, theater and more. Our residents’ love of various forms of art – including dance and literature – is embraced in several ways in our beautiful community. Here, residents enjoy:
- Art exhibits by residents and staff
- Art and pottery classes by Williamsburg Contemporary Arts Center
- Museum trips
- Author presentations – Landing writers, poets and Williamsburg-area writers
“Art also plays a very important role in the lives of loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia at our Woodhaven memory care neighborhood. Our therapeutic memory care programs recognize that expressive art activities promote active engagement in life. These activities keep loved ones involved in life in healthy, purposeful and fulfilling ways while reducing their symptoms of anxiety, agitation and apathy and enhancing their sense of well-being.
“Just as music is said to ‘soothe the savage breast,’ a variety of art forms are used at Williamsburg Landing to relax, regenerate and to revitalize the body, mind and spirit.”
Welcome to Williamsburg Landing
Looking for a vibrant, engaging and fulfilling way of life? If so, you’ll find it at Williamsburg Landing.
Nestled on 137 wooded acres along the serene banks of College Creek in Williamsburg, Va., Williamsburg Landing is the premier, not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) serving Williamsburg and its surrounding areas since 1985. With one visit, you’ll understand what makes Williamsburg Landing so special.
Williamsburg Landing is an ideal blend of beautiful landscaping and elegant, Colonial architecture. It invites residents to become part of its vibrant, active lifestyle and rest-assured in its award-winning medical care. It eases worries with maintenance-free homes and apartments with resort-style amenities and services. The community thrives with energetic, involved and friendly people who love to live here and the warmth of dedicated, committed professionals who love to work here.
With a past rich in tradition and a future filled with promise, Williamsburg Landing is the perfect place to call home – for today and tomorrow.