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Cognition and Creativity

As adults age, and they find their social engagement more limited, it's wonderful when we can help them find ways to feel more alive and connected, where their life can be enjoyed.

ART appreciation and creation are wonderful ways to connect with your aging loved one especially if they are finding more difficult to find the words to express themselves. Coloring is a wonderful medium for young and old alike to participate in together. It stimulates the mind and senses, and sparks conversation.

Remember how much we loved to color as kids?! Coloring books have become a fairly recent favorite amongst adults to tease our imagination and bring out the child out in us. Mandalas, zentangles, and themed coloring books (large and small format) geared for adults can be bought in local book shops and online. Consider buying some coloring books, colored pens and pencils, and set a side some quality one-on-one time with your elder to color together. Coloring together gives opportunity to have conversations such as:

When was the last time you colored?

Why did you pick that design; what does it remind you of?

Those are beautiful colors; why did you pick those particular ones?

Do you have any childhood memories about coloring, drawing, writing when you were young?

Coloring is a relaxing, calming and fun activity, and it provides a new interest that is uplifting and positive giving them a greater sense of autonomy. Rather than focusing on their mental and physical decline with aging, coloring helps restore a sense of pleasure and joy in the simplicity of such an activity.

Coloring-together activities can:

Help them relax

Give them back control of their life

Reduce depression and anxiety

Help with socialization

Encourage a good mood, humor, and play

Improve cognitive abilities

Fosters sensory stimulation

Improves self-esteem

Helps to deal with boredom

Open up communication

Let them choose. Offer coloring pages and coloring implements (crayons, pens, pencils) to select from that are most appropriate with their eye-hand coordination and attention span; especially if your loved one has a memory-loss condition.

Be sure to treat your loved one like an adult and with respect, and be patient if they are reluctant at first to try something new. Go slow. Offer to color a page together. If you find they have no interest in coloring, trying drawing together (pick a topic/subject together) or looking through art books together with them and talk about what they see and like about each work of art. Do they jog any of their own memories?

Here are samples of zentangles and a mandala to color. Go online to find more mandalas and zentangles to download for free.

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