Discovering creativity

Creative pursuits can work wonders for older adults, including caregivers.

Seniors doing pottery

Communication, time management and planning are all key parts of the daily routine for a caregiver of an older adult, but it can be beneficial to add something else to the mix: Creativity.

A variety of studies suggest that engaging seniors in creative outlets, such as art and movement activities, can improve quality of life and health for both older adults and their caregivers, according to the National Center for Creative Aging.

Indeed, creative expression can spark opportunities for discovery and even bonding if completed together by a caregiver and a loved one.

Solo creative activities for caregivers, of course, also can offer stress relief and self-reflection during essential time away from caregiving.

Out and about

Caregivers looking for activities to do with their loved ones can find a number of community programs for older adults that offer art, music, dance and other creative outlets for free or a fee.

While these classes might not be explicitly marketed to include caregivers, they often welcome them to participate in the activities alongside their loved ones.

Caregivers also can add creativity to their own self-care routines. Enrolling in classes such as dancing, scrapbooking or knitting can help not only relieve stress but also reaffirm passions and even one’s own identity — something that can get lost in the responsibilities of caring for another person.

Participating in these types of programs alone may require a caregiver to seek out a respite program to care for their loved one.

Fortunately, online resources are available to help caregivers locate — and help pay for — local respite programs.

Staying home

There are a number of free online activities that can be integrated into a home-care routine, too.

Many websites are dedicated to providing these resources, including directions for simple activities caregivers and their loved ones can do together.

Searchable video websites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, also can be a valuable resource. Fellow caregivers, senior experts and others share ideas and successes they’ve had when adding opportunities for creative expression into their care routines.

Projects and ideas can be customized to older adults’ abilities and preferences, which can help create more successful outcomes, too!

Getting started

Check out these sites to learn how to introduce creative expression into care routines for your loved one and/or yourself:

  • National Center for Creative Aging: This free online resource provides videos for in-home caregiving activities that include singing, call-and-response poetry reading and art projects.
  • ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center: Learn how to locate respite providers as well as funding to lessen the financial burden of respite care.
  • Minnesota’s Senior LinkAge Line: Older adults and caregivers can use this hotline to find respite programs and organizations that offer creative activities. Call 800-333-2433.
  • 2nd Half with Lyngblomsten: This enrichment center offers numerous activities for older adults, including respite services, caregiver resources, support groups and lifelong learning programs that include art, music, dance and other creative activities.
  • Amherst H. Wilder Foundation: Discover a variety of caregiver services, including support groups and educational opportunities.

Brandi Jewett is a writing specialist with Lyngblomsten, a Christian nonprofit organization that provides health care, housing and community resources to older adults in the Twin Cities. Lyngblomsten is a member of the Metropolitan Caregiver Service Collaborative.