As an Art Therapist working at Milwaukee Catholic Home, I see the benefits of working with the fine arts on a weekly basis. As with all of the Therapeutic Recreation programs offered, when an individual decides to participate in a program, they are a part of a community. It’s a community of people who have had some of the same experiences that come with getting older – loss, more time on their hands, possible illnesses or ailments, isolation, as well as wisdom and wonderful life stories they can share.
Art is beneficial for both the creator and the viewer. According to her article, Aging: What’s Art Got To Do With It?, Barbara Bagan, PhD, ATR-BC states: “Neurological research shows that making art can improve cognitive functions by producing both new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dendrites. Thus, art enhances cognitive reserve, helping the brain actively compensate for pathology by using more efficient brain networks or alternative brain strategies. Making art or even viewing art causes the brain to continue to reshape, adapt, and restructure, thus expanding the potential to increase brain reserve capacity.”
There are many opportunities to participate in the fine arts at Milwaukee Catholic Home including, but not limited to: enjoying musical performers at Patio Pops or other special events, participating in Music Therapy and Art Therapy, singing in the MCH choir, ballroom dance, learning about arts organizations like the Milwaukee Ballet as part of the Life Long Learning initiative, Shakespeare discussions, storytelling, pottery, painting and other creative arts, art shows, visits to museums and art appreciation sessions.
These programs often provide residents with meaning and purpose. They provide opportunities for socialization, learning, increasing confidence, reducing depression – the list goes on! I think the MCH logo sums up the benefits of the fine arts nicely: Experience. Community. Spirit.