Creative Activities Bring Mental & Physical Benefits To Seniors

Ninety three year old Laton Weinberg considers himself a newcomer to picture painting. He didn't start water coloring until he became a resident at Dunbar Village Nursing Center a year ago.

"It's something to do. I like to have something to do," Laton Weinberg said.

According to a study being conducted by George Washington University, activities like painting can provide much more than just a way to pass the time. It can actually have mental and physical health benefits for seniors.

88 year old Irene Staszak agrees with the researchers.

"I find being here I have a lot of time and we do a lot of things, and this is one of them. It stimulates the mind for me... because I have Parkinson and that's hard to cope with. You lose a lot."

The study says singing or painting can help counter the mental decline that was once thought to be an inevitable part of aging.

"Part of what we are trying to fight is the loneliness, helplessness and boredom that the elders feel. They are not sick, they're frail. And they may have chronic illness, but the loneliness, helplessness and boredom are what seems to cause most of the problems," Dunbar Village Vice President Maureen Morley said.

"When a person has something to do and they can see what they've done, such as in a creative activity as singing or painting, they feel better about themselves so there's less depression less anxiousness less sleeplessness."

The study says elders who engage themselves in the arts make fewer doctors visits and take less medication. Final results from the seniors study will be released sometime next year.

by Al Showers