Over the past decade, science is beginning to prove what artists and creative types have known inherently for years, that engaging in artistic endeavors brings about profound benefits for the whole individual: physically, mentally, and emotionally. This promotion of healthy living becomes increasingly more important as these individuals age. As a result, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens has been working on a program specifically designed for
older adults called Reflections Through Art.
Recently, as mentioned above, multiple research studies and health professionals are beginning to examine the positive relationship between engaging in the arts and healthy aging. Dr. James Aw, the medical director for a leading private health clinic in Toronto, speaks to his own experience with patients, saying it is clear “a relationship exists between culture and good health . . . the most vital and vigorous octogenarians in my practice tend to be ardent aficionados of the arts.”
Dr. Aw backs up his advice asking his patients to visit their local art museum with a Swedish study that followed 4,000 people over the course of 14 years. The research found a positive relationship between longevity and the people who most visited the cinema, concerts, museums, or art exhibitions. Individuals’ increased participation in cultural activities corresponded with good health, life-satisfaction, decreased anxiety and decreased amounts of depression.
In a related study, Dr. Gene Cohen, a leader in the field of creativity and healthy aging, investigated how professionally conducted cultural programs impacted older adults. He found that individuals who participated in regular community art groups:
• used less medication,
• reported fewer doctor visits,
• experienced elevated mood,
• showed an increase in independence, as well as
• a decrease in reports of depression and loneliness
when compared to individuals who did not participate in these artistic activities.
With all of this in mind, it seems our society is beginning to redefine the aging process, and it is doing so through the vocabulary of art. As a result, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is working to promote healthy aging throughout the Memphis community with its program Reflections Through Art. Inspired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the program consists of two parts: Individuals can sign up for specialized gallery tours, designed to promote mental stimulation through intellectual discussion or they can also participate in hands-on art making sessions, where they can strengthen their minds and express themselves through the acquisition new artistic skills and techniques.
As Dr. Gene Cohen said, “Art is chocolate for the brain,” so the Dixon Gallery and Gardens invites you to eat up!
*Reflections Through Art: Gallery tours will be held on the following dates.
February 20th 2:00pm
May 21st 2:00pm
August 20th 2:00pm
November 19th 2:00pm
*Reflections Through Art: Art making sessions are offered the 1st and 3rd Monday afternoon of every month.
Call today to reserve!
- Catherine M Harris, ATR-BC
Art Therapist and Artist