The Senior Years: Time For Creativity

Not only do our brains naturally increase in their capacity for creativity as we age; creative activity helps to deepen that capacity, drawing on the learning and experiences that we have accumulated over the years.

Psychologists have observed parallels between the distracted, more broadly focused and less inhibited brains of elders and the creative brains of artists of all ages. They found that both brains have a knack for synthesizing diverse stored knowledge and experience to solve problems. Another similarity between elders and artists is their general willingness to speak their minds and act regardless of social pressures. All good stuff when it comes to creative self-expression.

Creativity For Seniors

Say “creativity” and you probably think of the arts: music, writing, painting, photography… But given the right passion and intent, anything can become an art form, whether it involves playing chess, solving crossword puzzles, creating hand-made greeting cards or knitting sweaters.

Seniors can and should find their particular form of expression and develop it for more than reasons of self-fulfillment. Think how important a sense of purpose is for anyone. In younger years, many people find it in careers, running a household and raising kids.

Once those major responsibilities are in the rear- view mirror, creative endeavors and the tangible pieces of work that result do more than fill a void – they provide a new direction and purpose.

Creative activity is inherently engaging. It is “doing” requiring attention, imagination and focused mind/body action. It contributes to mental, emotional and physical health by helping us grow in mind and spirit and connect to a sense of competence. Health benefits include sharpening cognitive abilities, building positive attitudes, and strengthening hand-eye coordination and overall dexterity. This is one way to age well.

Creative Activities for Retirees, Vernon VT

Creativity covers a lot of ground. In addition to the visual, music and writing arts, there are hundreds of craft-type pursuits that can be every bit as satisfying to engage in. What about creating a life-story book populated with a lifetime of photos? Hand-made clay pots? Decorative candles? Knitted wall hangings?

The important thing is to identify an interest and develop it. For inspiration, consider some of those who did great work in later years:

  • Guitarist Les Paul had a steady weekly gig at the Iridium club in New York right up until his death at age 94
  • American screenwriter Millard Kaufman became a novelist for the first time at age 90 with Bowl of Cherries
  • Grandma Moses took up painting in her late 70s and produced work until her death at 101
  • Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens at age 78
  • Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was 92 when he finished his design of New York’s Guggenheim Museum
  • Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi wrote his opera Falstaff when 85 years old

The take-away from these examples is that creativity can flourish at any age. It is its own reward, and even the means to speak to those who come after us. There are few better ways to carry messages, lessons or ideas forward than investing yourself in a creative work.

What They Say

“ We had our name in at other places and had driven by Meetinghouse Village many times before we came to see it. We loved it immediately. Everyone was pleasant and kind. We moved in right away. People in our building are nice to be with and check on each other to make sure we're OK. We are happy to be here. ”

What They Say

“ Some six years ago I searched for a retirement apartment that was comfortable, safe and provided everything needed for independent living at a price that a person of modest means could afford. I found Meetinghouse Village not only met my basic requirements, but also provided for spiritual needs. I have felt no pressure to be anything but what I am. By living here, I feel I have grown and become a better person. I have become more tolerant and have a greater appreciation of God. ”

What They Say

“ I have lived at Meetinghouse Village for nearly 10 years - almost three years with my husband and seven years alone, since he passed away. It's a very pleasant and affordable place with no worries about maintenance and costly repairs. There's a lot to do: social events, game nights, movies, gardening, etc. if you wish to participate. We also have a hair salon, exercise rooms, woodworking shop, laundry room and mail room, all under our roof. I have quiet, friendly neighbors, and I feel happy and safe living here. I couldn't find a better place to live on my income. ”

What They Say

“ I enjoy living here because I feel safe and comfortable in an atmosphere of friendship and spiritual understanding. ”

What They Say

“ There are lots of reasons why I like living at Meetinghouse Village. It's close to parks, beaches, historical towns and cultural opportunities. The apartments are well appointed and comfortable, have decks and ample storage spaces. I like the fact that the staff arranges activities, and we residents are free to use the community spaces for gatherings of our own making. If we have guests, the guest apartment is a tremendous asset, and the fees are minimal. And if any of us have concerns, we can go to the executive director -- he listens. ”