We all know we need to exercise to keep our bodies healthy. Some great research supports why it makes perfect sense that “use it or lose it” applies to our mental faculties, too. And it’s exciting to come upon more and more research that shows how engaging in the arts stimulates many areas of the brain, as expressed in the August 14 article on Music and the Brain in Science News. And how creative activity is good for the brain, impacting dendrites, nerve endings, and more. I recently heard Dr. Paul Aravich, a researcher at EVMS’ Glennan Center for Geriatric Research, talk about the importance creating a stimulating environment in long-term care. Here is where the great opportunity for the community arts programs, like those provided by Tidewater Arts Outreach, comes in. As we age, we lose the ability to do stimulating things that, at one time, gave us challenges, pleasures, and opportunities for development, like engaging in team sports or physical activities, business pursuits, serious hobbies, intellectual pastimes, etc. It’s vital to continued health and vitality that we replace those things that can no longer be done with appropriate, stimulating and satisfying activities.
There is great room for improvement in many long-term care facilities. We can’t expect that staff can meet all the needs of their residents. Just as ‘it takes a village’ to support young families and their children, I believe ‘it takes a community’ to remain involved in the lives of our eldest neighbors, family members and friends. And the arts are a fantastic bridge that allows meaningful, stimulating, respectful, appropriate, and engaging involvement to occur.
For more information about the benefits of the arts in healthcare and long-term care, visit the Tidewater Arts Outreach resources page.