Art at Any Age

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IMG_4924Two canvas paintings have been displayed behind Deb Phinney’s desk at the Bosque Arts Center (BAC) in Clifton, Texas for a few weeks now. As the program director for the BAC, Ms. Phinney regularly has visitors in her office. She’s lost count of the people who’ve asked her about the watercolor and acrylic creations on her shelf. “Where did they come from?” “Are those for sale?” Her response was usually met with surprise when she explained they were painted by residents of Lutheran Sunset Ministries, a retirement community offering a full continuum of care in Bosque County.

Why are we as a society typically surprised when we see senior adults accomplishing great things? Has it been engrained in our minds that once we reach a certain age we can no longer learn new things, be creative or challenge ourselves? Many older adults even think the same about themselves. “I’m too old to learn something new.” “What’s the point in challenging myself at this stage in my life?” This is a mindset that Lutheran Sunset Ministries is working to change by regularly providing new opportunities to residents to help them constantly grow – intellectually, physically, socially and spiritually.

According to the National Council on Aging, research shows that older adults who participate in opportunities, such as art class, dance or creative writing, can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional and mental well-being. Seniors who participate in art programs have been noted as experiencing fewer doctor visits, less medication use, a reduction in falls and a higher overall rating of physical health. This should not be surprising as expressing ourselves is a vital human need. Sharing our interests through images, music or words promotes the sense of well-being that is a major measure of successful aging.

Art classes can have several benefits to seniors, including intellectual stimulation, socialization and the addition of a relaxing, therapeutic quality to the day, among other things. Often times, mobility in our hands is the first to go; however, painting can provide the perfect tool for practicing agility. Art class can promote concentration and even offer emotional stability, as it allows people to communicate their feeling with color.

Many people believe that creativity peaks when we are young, diminishing as we grow older. However, research show that creativity can be maintained and even increased with age. Many lifelong artists have reached their most productive and innovative phase in their 60s and beyond.

With this in mind, Lutheran Sunset Ministries recently announced their first ever Resident Art Show, March 19-21, 2015. Through a partnership with Bosque Arts Center, who provides art classes by instructor Karen Wise in the various LSM programs, the resident art will be displayed for the public at the BAC. In addition, on Saturday, March 21, an artist reception will be held from 2-4 pm for families, friends, guests and interested parties. This reception is free to the public and provides a nice way to celebrate the fact that art is for any age. A People’s Choice and a Residents’ Choice award will be given along with participation ribbon for all participants. Please plan to attend and support a very special event hosted by Lutheran Sunset Ministries and the Bosque Arts Center.

No matter your age, it’s never too late to learn new things, be creative and challenge yourself. Sing, dance, paint and enjoy yourself! We’ve got one life and we should make it count!

Article by Andrea Hikel, Lutheran Sunset Ministries’ marketing and community relations director.

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