Creative Pursuits Promote Healthy Aging
The theme of this year’s National Assisted Living Week, from Sunday, September 8 through Saturday, September 14, is “A Spark of Creativity.” The theme encourages assisted living residents to “tap into their creative side” through the arts and other expressive pursuits and inspires staff to get creative to help improve each person’s quality of life.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy can improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, enhance social skills and cultivate emotional resilience in older adults.
Numerous studies indicate that arts and crafts and creative projects positively impact our health as we age by engaging us socially and creatively, giving us a sense of purpose and improving our self-confidence. Other benefits include relieving stress, encouraging creative thinking, stimulating brain activity, alleviating boredom, reducing depression and decreasing feelings of isolation.
While most assisted living facilities offer a varied menu of art and craft activities along with opportunities to participate in other creative areas like singing, dancing, and writing, seniors who live independently might use the “A Spark of Creativity” theme as a reminder to incorporate artistic and creative pursuits in their lives on a regular basis, along with physical activity and a balanced diet, as part of healthy ageing.
Significantly, you do not need to be a professional artist — a painter, sculptor, musician, or dancer, for instance — to reap the benefits of artistic and creative expression. Participating in arts-based classes and workshops, pursuing a hobby like quilting or fly tying, attending theater presentations or museum exhibitions, and even singing in the shower or dancing around the house with the radio cranked up to a favorite tune draw on your creative spirit, bring joy to your life and enhance your emotional health and well-being as you deal with the challenges of aging.
Fortunately, the North Country offers multiple opportunities to engage you artistically and creatively. Both the Littleton Senior Center and the Senior Center of Coös in Berlin list free art programs among their many activities. The Littleton Studio School and Assemble Makerspace Studios in Berlin schedule multiple art classes throughout the year, such as jewelry making, pottery, basket making, metalwork, stained glass, watercolors, needle felting and more.
Libraries frequently host guest speakers on an engaging variety of topics, and many have book clubs that meet monthly. The Appalachian Mountain Club at the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch and the Highland Center in Bretton Woods presents free programs on most Saturday evenings, with topics as varied as the astronomy of the White Mountains, hiking tales from around the world, and musical entertainment.
Year-round cultural events, including musical and theatrical performances, are presented at the Medallion Opera House in Gorham, St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts in Berlin, Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall in Haverhill, the Loading Dock in Littleton, Silver Center for the Arts in Plymouth, and Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, Vt.
Attend First Friday gallery openings at the Gallery at WREN and 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center, both in Bethlehem, where different guest artists are featured each month. Maia Papaya, also in Bethlehem, features a rotating selection of art and First Friday opportunities to meet the artist every other month.
And while summer is almost over, keep these seasonal venues in mind for next year: See Grammy Award-winning and national and international musical artists and independent feature films at The Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem; enjoy summer theatre at its best at the Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield and Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln; listen to classical music by the North Country Chamber Players in Sugar Hill and Whitefield; attend the free Weeks State Park summer series in Lancaster on Thursday evenings, with programs that run the gamut from musical nights to lectures on local history and regional flora and fauna; and enjoy free poetry readings at the Frost Place in Franconia.