The benefits of arts and crafts for seniors are impressive.
They have a much bigger impact than I thought before I started looking further into it for my aunt, who wanted alternatives to outdoor activities that she could no longer do and that didn’t sacrifice her independent living.
After research, I found some really positive information about how these art projects for elderly can benefit them and promote happy, successful aging.
So, let’s dive in and look at the benefits of including art appreciation activities in the lives of seniors.
- Improve mental health
- Provide an outlet for socializing and making friends
- Give a person a sense of purpose and accomplishment
- Offers many physical benefits
- Help improve self-confidence
- Reduce the severity of pain
- Stimulates fine motor skills
- Reduce adult cognitive decline
How Can Arts and Crafts Benefit Seniors?
Arts and crafts have positive effects on everyone, no matter the age, but they are particularly good for seniors for several reasons, including physical and mental health, motor skills, and boosting self-esteem.
Here are some of the main benefits of art therapy on the quality of life for seniors that I learned from my research. Arts & health are closely linked.
1. Improve Mental Health
Seniors who no longer work can face challenges such as dealing with illness, memory loss, and isolation. All of this can increase anxiety and depression.
A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association found that participants that spent just 45 minutes taking part in craft activities showed a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. 
This was tested by taking a blood sample from the participants to measure cortisol levels.
The beneficial effects of reducing stress can include improving your mood, reducing the risk of depression, and giving you a sense of achievement.
Also Check: Craft Ideas for Seniors in Nursing Homes
2. Socializing and Forming New Friendships
Another one of the great benefits of arts and crafts for seniors is that it provides a way for seniors to meet others, especially if they are no longer able to take part in more physical activities.
These activities for seniors are usually held in groups, so there are lots of opportunities to socialize and make new friends.
It is a wonderful way to provide senior citizens with a more active social life when they are facing increased isolation and loneliness due to mobility issues.
This is also one of the benefits of dance, another activity seniors of many abilities can take part in.
3. Providing a Sense of Purpose
While retiring from a long career has many positive aspects, it also comes with a whole new set of challenges. Getting up every day and going to work gives you a sense of purpose, but with retirement, this is suddenly gone.
This can lead to feeling lost and wondering what your purpose now is. Taking part in creative activities opens the door to learning new skills and provides a sense of accomplishment when completing an art project.
4. Improves Physical Health
Not only do craft activities improve a senior’s sense of identity and provide health benefits, but they also have been shown to improve physical health.
Crafts activities resulted in a “higher overall rating of physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer instances of falls, and fewer other health problems” according to previous studies published in the Gerontologist. 
5. Helps Boost Self Confidence
Seniors dealing with a decline in their physical and/or cognitive ability can suffer from a loss of self-confidence. I noticed this with my aunt, who could no longer physically take part in the outdoor activities she loved.
Crafts activities can help seniors find something that they can create and complete. It helps them feel like they can still successfully achieve something, giving them a boost of self-confidence.
When my aunt joined a craft group at her local senior center, I quickly saw her spark for life come back. Since then, she’s been exploring all kinds of creative pursuits.
I would also recommend you check these interesting painting ideas for seniors that she tried.
6. Helps Reduce Pain
At first, you might this is contradictory. However, as crafts can help reduce stress and make you more relaxed, they can help train your brain to perceive pain differently or break the cycle of your brain thinking there are pain signals when there aren’t. 
Also, when your mind is more relaxed, your blood flow improves, which can help reduce the pain many seniors suffer in their hands from ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis.
In other words, focusing on the activities helps your brain alter neural pathways and how it reads pain. Pretty cool!
7. Stimulates and Helps Improve Fine Motor Skills
One of the wonderful beneficial effects of art therapy is the improvement of fine motor skills and is one way of exercise training without feeling like you are actually exercising. Taking part in craft projects requires the use of your hands and some degree of precision.
Not only is this one of the productive activities that can improve circulation, but it can also help strengthen your hands. The need for some precision can help stimulate fine motor skills.
8. Helps Improve Brain Stimulation
Working on brain health is important for all seniors. Creating arts and crafts will keep your brain ‘thinking’ as you solve problems and explore ideas.
An active brain is a healthier brain and can help slow the development of cognitive impairment.
This, in turn, will help improve the quality of life. It’s like exercise training for the brain.
9. Improved Cognitive Function
As I touched on above, brain stimulation can slow cognitive decline. However, it is important to keep activities simple for some seniors to avoid overstimulation which can cause anxiety.
The key is to focus on each person’s strengths to set them up for success while still providing a wide range of creative ideas to help social engagement, physical and mental health benefits, and keep the brain active.
The effects of art therapy and crafting help with concentration which exercises the brain and keeps it sharp. Crafts are a fun way to incorporate cognitive training into a senior’s daily living without strict restrictions or boring activities.
There is such a broad range of arts and crafts activities that there is something for everyone.
Learn more about how crafts help adult cognitive challenges such as memory challenges by watching this video.
Why is painting good for seniors?
Painting is good for seniors as it can create a relaxed way for social engagement, provide a way to express themselves, help stimulate cognitive improvements, and improve dexterity.
It is one of the most enjoyable and productive activities seniors can take part in.
Why is music important for seniors?
Like crafts, the contributions of music have an important impact on the quality of life for seniors because it creates a social life and helps stimulate happy memories, which can improve moods and mental health.
Taking part in a musical activity can give a senior a new zest for life!
Why are creative activities important for the elderly?
Creative activities are important for the elderly as they provide not only physical benefits but beneficial effects also including the slow down cognitive decline and brain health improvement.
What are the benefits of dance for seniors?
The benefits of dance for seniors help improve fitness, flexibility, and balance. Aerobic exercise effects also improve energy levels. Plus, the effects of dance and other cultural programs provide a fun way for seniors to socialize.
Even seniors with limited mobility can enjoy the effects of dance, as there are so many ways to take part, even when sitting down.
I hope this has helped you see the many fantastic benefits of arts and crafts for seniors. There is so much more than I first thought can contribute to active aging!
There are many ways for seniors to take part in cultural programs and benefit from crafts and the effects of dance.
You can join a group at your local senior center, look for classes in your area, or see if your loved one’s nursing home or assisted living facility has this activity for their adult residents.
Art engagement on any level can be so much fun. Not only will it improve your senior’s health, but it is also a great way to spend time with those you love.
The arts & health go hand in hand and will help all seniors with successful aging!
How did you find these benefits of arts and crafts for seniors? Let us know in the comments section!
- 1. Ray K. 2016. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832?journalCode=uart20#.V2GKm-YrI6g
- 2. Cohen GD, Perlstein S, Chapline J, Kelly J, Firth KM, Simmens S. The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health, and Social Functioning of Older Adults. The Gerontologist [Internet]. 2006;46:726–34. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/46/6/726/584645
- 3. Harvard Health Publishing. 6 ways to use your mind to control pain – Harvard Health [Internet]. Harvard Health. Harvard Health; 2015. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/6-ways-to-use-your-mind-to-control-pain