Art Therapy for Wellbeing at St Louis Aged Care

At St Louis, we believe that no matter what our age, our love of learning can be kept alive and well throughout our entire life. One of the ways we support this is through our art therapy sessions that are held every fortnight, where all sorts of artistic journeys are taken by our residents!

Art therapy is a counselling process that uses art as a way of gaining deeper insight into our psyche or subconscious, helping us to explore new ways of approaching our life’s challenges. Art therapy helps people express their feelings in a simpler and more direct way than therapies that require talking. And it is fun and engaging.

Although our creativity cannot be attributed to any specific part of the brain, our ability to be creative lasts well into our elder years more so than verbal reasoning, so it makes sense to use art therapy as a means of communication in an aged care environment where people may find it easier to express thoughts and feelings using art rather than words.

How Art Therapy helps the elderly

Age, background, gender or physical ability have no relevance in creating art. Art is not something that is done by those who know how to draw. When we are relaxed and in a supportive environment, all of us can produce works of art that tell a story of us and how we are relating to the world out there. Art can be a representation of own creative expression, or of our subconscious or inner world.

At St Louis, the art therapy classes provide an ideal environment for residents to explore, understand and accept the changes that are happening or have happened in their lives.

Becoming more dependent on others for your daily wellbeing can lead to feelings of helplessness and feeling more vulnerable, or a sense of losing control of your life. Art therapy helps people accept and view this new phase of life in a positive way.

A sense of vulnerability

In one of our art therapy sessions, we completed a group painting and the project was to create a large canvas about the colours of autumn. At the end of each project we discuss the art and gather many interesting insights during this conversation. One of the residents who had previously been reserved during our art therapy sessions, told a story of what she saw in the colours. Her story was about a frail ageing woman, wanting to get across the road on a stormy windy day. She was only able to cross the road with the help of younger people who were more than happy to help her.

After recounting her story, the rest of the art therapy group burst out in applause. Either they were able to empathise or fully relate to her feelings of fragility. Being able to express this was a load off her shoulders and helped her release feelings of fear around ageing, becoming more dependant on others and knowing she was safe and not alone.

Loss of control

Some people feel a loss of control over their lives, especially if they have lost their license or were responsible for looking after other people in their younger years. This can take an emotional toll. Art therapy has helped our residents in these situations reframe this phase of their life and discover new avenues of channelling their creative expression and productivity.

There is always something new out there to discover, explore and learn, no matter what your age. Sometimes it is just a matter of thinking outside your norm - art therapy has inspired people to learn new things.

Alan Hendry from Vintage Creative Therapies - runs the art therapy classes at St Louis. Alan states that “Art Therapy has many benefits for people in aged care. It provides an avenue for complex thoughts and emotions to be expressed and it also helps to alleviate anxiety and depression. It helps cognitive functioning and improves fine motor skills. Especially for people with dementia it allows an avenue for them to express what they cannot in words.”

After an art therapy session at St Louis, the mood is lighter, happier and often there is laughter. There is plenty of conversation and teamwork and even if people are a little reserved first, eventually they enjoy the social aspect of group art therapy.

Let our family at St Louis Aged Care help take care of yours

St Louis have been in aged care for more than 70 years. We have a small boutique nursing home with 45 residents in Parkside, independent living units and home care services in Adelaide and Victor Harbor. Call us on 1800 011 946 to discuss how we can help you or a loved one with some extra care.

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