Find Your ‘Spark of Creativity’ This National Assisted Living Week
Sept. 8-14 is National Assisted Living Week (NALW), a unique opportunity for residents, their loved ones, staff, volunteers, and local communities to celebrate assisted living care for America’s seniors. Annually, this celebration encourages assisted living communities like Grand Oaks to offer events and activities to celebrate the individuals we serve and educate others of the important role of assisted living care.
This year’s theme is “A Spark of Creativity.” It encourages residents to connect with their creative side—through art, music, and beyond. Whether these activities help them learn something new or tap into an interest that’s been there all along, the arts allow seniors to explore their creative side. All week long, Grand Oaks will continue to find creative ways to enhance our residents’ quality of life and artistic expression.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services concentration that enriches lives through active artmaking, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship. Art therapists work in hospitals, schools, community clinics, senior and assisted living communities, and more. Through drawing, painting, sculpting, coloring, sewing, collaging, and other methods, art therapy allows for creative expression that can overcome the limitations of language only.
Art therapy can offer many benefits to older adults:
- Cultivating emotional resilience
- Enhancing social skills
- Fostering self-esteem and self-awareness
- Improving cognitive and sensory-motor functions
- Promoting insight and intuition
- Reducing and resolving conflicts and distress
How Grand Oaks Supports Artistic Expression of All Residents
At Grand Oaks, our community offers a mix of art therapy and creative activities that stimulate the mind, body, and spirit. We take advantage of cultural offerings in our nation’s capital and provide access to a range of engaging events. Our creative programs are an essential component to maintaining cognitive health and quality of life for all residents.
- Music: Research shows that music can improve cognitive ability in older adults. Music stimulates certain areas of the brain to increase blood flow, boost mood, reduce stress and agitation, and coordinate motor function. At Grand Oaks, residents enjoy music appreciation classes, music lectures, socials with their favorite tunes, ballroom dancing with music, live entertainment, opera broadcast nights, and more.
- Arts & Crafts: Arts and crafts are often used as a source of art therapy for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s. That’s because crafting lessens a senior’s anxiety, reducing their feelings of isolation and improving their wellbeing. Certain paint colors or creative endeavors may even bring back happy memories when they were younger and enjoyed similar activities. At Grand Oaks, we have plenty of creative crafts to keep our residents busy and engaged. These include sip and paint nights, art lectures, Baby Hats Club, and more.
- Cooking: Did you know that, for seniors, cooking not only activates the senses (touch, smell, sight, and taste) but also triggers happy memories, encourages social bonding and expression, and exercises the mind? At Grand Oaks, residents look forward to cooking classes with Adela. Last month, they learned how to make homemade egg rolls paired perfectly with strawberry orange smoothies. (Check out our Facebook page to find out what’s cooking this month.)
- Singing & Dancing: According to research, we should all sing (even if we’re not great at it). That’s because singing produces more oxygen in the blood, improves circulation and breathing, and results in less stress. Singing in a group is even better as it promotes friendships, greater feelings of happiness, and reduced anxiety. Dancing has many of the same benefits. It improves muscle power, balance, agility, and mood, and gives seniors a chance to interact with one another. Grand Oaks’ activities and events calendar is full of singing and dancing opportunities for residents, from Glee Club to happy hours with music and dancing.
There are so many more creative ways for our residents to interact:
- Ballroom Dancing
- Book Clubs & Exchanges
- Bridge Club
- Flowers & Gardening Clubs
- Lectures on Historical Figures, Anthropology, Music, and Art
- Reading Groups
- Theatre & Concert Outings
Celebrate NALW with Your Loved One
Looking for ideas to help improve your loved one’s experience and quality of life through art? Consider these creative activities this NALW.
- Visit a local art museum or gallery. Ask your loved one about their favorite exhibit and why they love it.
- Work with your loved one to find family pictures, images of activities or things they love, inspirational quotes, goals, and more to create an inspiration board.
- Host an art show of your loved one’s drawings or paintings, or an “open mic night” and invite family and friends over for karaoke.
- Start a memory quilt using scraps of old or meaningful clothing.
- Find a cherished family recipe and make a meal or dessert together.
- Create a family tree memory journal. Ask your loved one to write about their favorite memories of family members.