The following video isn’t the best quality or best produced. But it does showcase how art can help senior citizens, the elderly, and older adults in general. It provides some personal accounts of how older people “stay alive” by utilizing the creative aspects of making art. It shows how art therapy can help improve the quality of life for people as they get older. The video also touches on how art therapy can help the elderly cope with the psychological effects of aging, illness and disability.
Beyond Words: Art Therapy With Older Adults
Transcript – Art Therapy With Older Adults, Elderly
Art can help people to review their lives and their therapy by creating and then reflecting on what they have made.
Woman from Senior Center in Georgia: “This is a box about the homes I’ve had. This is our first home when we were married in 19…I got to think…1936.”
And when old age brings losses of people, of home, of health, of mobility…making art can enrich lives and can even lift the weight of depression.
Elizabeth Layton: “You hurt and you hurt and you hurt…and then you go round and round and around…so I can’t stand this so I’ll do something. After a point… My sister wrote and urged me to do something…and she was into drawing at the time and she thought if I were to draw it might help. And everyone said, ‘you don’t look like that.’ But I knew I looked like that ’cause I had drawn it out of a mirror.”
Robert Ault: “What I find most interesting about this story is that 10 months after she took up contour drawing, Elizabeth Layton’s depression had vanished.
Elizabeth Layton: “And then I was feeling okay.”
Like Mary, some of the residents will live out their days in this institution. Painting and modeling can help them come to terms with problems assoicated with aging and loss.
Elderly Woman from Rehab Hospital in New York: “Well, I’m 94 years old. What are you gonna do to make me feel young? ‘Cause I didn’t think I could move these old shoulders like that.”
Older Man from VA Hospital in Vermont: “You can lose your identity in a hospital. Outside you’re and individual in a hospital and you’re something that they’re working on. But when you start doing something like this, it gives you that feeling back again…that you’re actually doing something as a human being.”
Sarah Banker (Art Therapist): “When you first come into a nursing home, you have given up your home and you’ve given up a great many choices that you had in your life and your daily routines. And also the sense of control that you have over your life. And you are very confused and it also leads to a lot of depression. But art, if they begin to explore and work in art, I think they can get that feeling of control back of having choices…there are infinite choices in art. And the dependency becomes less as they explore and create themselves.”
Older Woman from Institution for the Elderly in California: “Well it’s been a lifesaver for my brother. He had a stroke which completely incapacitated him because his left hand was untrained…he could do nothing with it. And then when this program started it occupied his time and his mind. It’s not a luxury. It’s really a necessity “