Art Therapy for Senior Citizens

elderly painting


Stimulating our seniors’ minds is one of the best ways to prevent dementia and improving their quality of life is art therapy.

The article below is beautifully written by an artist who started up their own art class for seniors and it is benefiting their community tremendously.


For more information on the article, click here.


Six steps to creating your own art therapy class. Even for the beginning art teacher.

Anyone who has put brush to paper knows the exhilaration of design, the pleasant calm of pleasing colors, the magical moment when images appear. Having painted all my life, I’ve known the joy and peace of being carried away by paint and brush. Now I find it’s not just art; it’s “art therapy”. This realization came when I began teaching watercolor painting to senior citizens through the Community Services department of my city’s Parks and Recreation Department some fifteen years ago. At first it seemed just a nice diversion for the seniors but it has transformed into an event most seniors will not miss for love, money, or doctor’s appointments. Most recently, I was approached by eight siblings who thanked me for saving their mother’s life. They said that before coming to paint with me, she had no interest in life; taking her medication, she ate and slept, nothing more. They were expecting a funeral soon. Then a friend brought her the center where I was teaching a watercolor class. Now she is angry if any of them should try to cut into her painting time. She may not be the next Grandma Moses, but how many of us are? I don’t expect my work to hang in the Louvers later, but it doesn’t stop me from expressing myself creatively with color.

Many of the senior citizens I have taught have decided to deepen their knowledge in the art field by taking drawing or additional painting classes at the city college. I take this as a complement. Most tell me they had no idea there was any ability there and now could not see themselves without art in their lives.

Do you have a desire to help people? Consider starting a similar class in your community.

The benefits to the elderly are many.

  • Improved eye-to-hand coordination
  • Improved concentration
  • Calming effect/lower blood pressure
  • Colors invigorate, cool and calm, enrich
  • Self esteem boost when friends and family see results
  • Confidence builder
  • Reason for leaving the house, interacting with people
  • Reason for engaging in life and enriching relationships

Do you believe Senior Citizens should have access to free government programs like this one? – Paid for by the City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department ?

When the budgets get tight, the government has to cut programs and usually the elderly and the children suffer most. Should arts therapy programs be paid for by the government or should private organizations pick up the slack. Unfortunately in our area, the only private organizations offering this kind of therapy charge a price most seniors on a fixed income cannot afford. What is the solution? Do you have one?