Be.Well by Medica 2021 Medicare Spring Issue

You’ve probably heard it from one of your friends. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. “I’m too old to take up painting.” Or: “I used to write poetry, but I gave it up a long time ago.”

Think it’s too late to take up a creative pursuit? Think again. History is filled with examples of people who started later in life. Case in point: The artist known as Grandma Moses started painting — without formal training — at age 78. Within years, her work hung in museums and galleries around the world. Another: Writer Harriet Doerr published her first novel, Stones of Ibarra , at age 73, and won a National Book Award for it. Yes, those might be extreme examples, and your work may never make you famous. But there are a host of benefits to taking up a creative pursuit.

What the science says Picking up a pen or paintbrush may be just as good for your health as eating an apple a day. A few years back, Neurology , a peer-reviewed journal, published a four- year Mayo Clinic study on arts and aging. One finding: Participants whomade creative projects were 73 percent less likely to forget everyday tasks. Plus they were better at learning new concepts andmaking decisions than their peers.

Art: Good for the brain — and the heart

Researchers aren’t certain why art helps keep us youthful and happy. One theory is that creativity helps stimulate growth of new brain cells. But that’s not all. Plenty of us have been feeling isolated as the pandemic has dragged on. Over time, that can lead to depression and other health issues. But making art can help you feel better by helping your brain produce a feel-good chemical called dopamine. And finding an online art class could help you make new social connections. Get started without breaking the bank Sites such as YouTube offer a wealth of how-to courses. Aweb search will uncover other options — community education offerings, programs by arts nonprofits, and more. Many offer free or discounted courses for older adults.

Numerous studies also have found that retirees who take group art classes tend to bemore satisfiedwith their lives. Prefer towork alone? You can still benefit. TheMayo study found that peoplewho didwoodworking or quiltingwere 45 percent less likely to suffer frommemory problems.

Whoknows, you couldbe thenextGrandmaMoses.

Katie Lajiness is the assistant editor of Be.Well by Medica.

Living Well 14


Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs