Rendezvous by/par Chartwell Winter 2018/2019 - Page 15

Older adults who get involved in music, dance, painting and storytelling programs also experience less depression, reports a National Endowment for the Arts study. Importance of creativity at any age Despite the long-held stereotype of creativity being the express domain of young people, many seniors feel they are at the height of their creative powers. This is not in spite of their age, but because of it. Having the time, the focus and the ability to draw upon a lifetime of knowledge and experience can boost creativity in our 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. Renowned American folk artist Grandma Moses didn’t begin painting until she was 75: that was because arthritis made it too difficult for her to do embroidery. Laura Ingalls Wilder, beloved author of the “Little House on the Prairie” books, published her first book at 65. There is also research that shows that age-related changes in the brain can actually contribute to creativity. Dr. Rex Jung, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico, says that after 40, demyelization in the brain, which affects the transmission of messages, has potential consequences for creativity. Jung says that reduced brain connectivity in older adults allows ideas to flow more freely. He likens it to “fewer brakes on your frontal inhib- itors,” which could encourage creating and connecting ideas in new and different ways. Experts also say that to foster creativity in your senior years, it’s important to try new things. Not only will this help improve memory and your social life, it will open you to new perspectives and new ideas. Want to be more creative? HERE ARE THREE EASY STRATEGIES: Sign up for something completely different. Join a class at your local seniors’ or community centre, library or retirement residence. Choose something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Always wanted to try your hand at painting, but never had the confidence? Now is the time to tap into your inner artist. Spend time in nature. Nature is the ultimate incubator for creativity. Take a walk through the fresh outdoors and let your mind wander. If you have a problem you’re working on, walking (or jogging) outside is a proven way to solve it: ideas can pop into your head, unfettered by your usual indoor routine. Tell your story. Winter is the perfect time to sit down by a cozy fire and tell your life story. Older people often find that they have excellent recall of events that happened when they were younger. Recounting these stories—orally or written—can be a life-affirming experience that boosts cognition, self-confidence and creativity. CHARTWELL.COM 12