Art Imitating a Long and Happy Life
by Susan Neuhalfen
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and for the seniors at the Good Samaritan Society at Lake Forest Village in Denton, it triggers a thousand memories and actually promotes better health.
Studies show that busy seniors are healthy seniors. Art, music and other therapies are shown not only to help seniors better communicate, but it can also help trigger physical movement that might have been difficult to achieve before that time.
Growing up in Kansas, one of Lake Forest Village’s current residents, Marie, was told she couldn’t participate in the art class at her school because she was diagnosed with poor depth perception. Many years later, when her arthritis hit, Marie’s doctor suggested she take up needlepoint but with her vision problems she wasn’t able to do it. About five years ago Marie had several eye operations which improved her sight greatly. With her new vision, Marie discovered needlepoint and now, at Lake Forest Village, she is finally able begin painting.
One more thing: Marie is 97 years young.
She is one of many residents participating in the various programs at Lake Forest, all of which provide incalculable health benefits. There is, however, one problem. They need a facility to accommodate the many activities going on there including the painting class which she attends.
Lake Forest is one of the largest non-profit senior care communities that provides independent living, assisted living and nursing home care all on one campus. They are dependent upon donations to not only build the building, but provide the art supplies needed.
“The residents are really clamoring for more classes,” said Laura Wells, the Director of Resource Development. “When they are learning new things it keeps their minds going, not to mention what they are gaining on a social level.”
Wells said that many of their current residents serve as instructors and have brought what supplies they have. In addition to the art classes, the center offers Bible study, monthly coffees with area speakers, outings, luncheons and game days such as bridge and bunco. Wells says that seeing how animated and expressive the residents are when they are together is wonderful.
“People think that once you go to a nursing home why would you need things like art and music classes?” said Wells. “The truth is, these people are in the prime of their lives. They finally have the time to do what they couldn’t do before.”
Studies have proven that those who participate in classes as seniors take less medicine and don’t suffer from as many ailments. That is because they are interacting socially and keeping their minds and their bodies active.
The dream, according to Wells, is to build a general building with several rooms to house various different activities from art classes to many other programs that promote well-being and a healthier lifestyle.
“We have one lady who teaches colored pencil drawing and you wouldn’t believe how popular this class is,” laughs Wells. “The people participating are normally not artistic at all, they just finally have the time to try something new, so they do, and it’s been good for them.”
Wells said her favorite thing about visiting the classes is listening to them all reminisce about their life experiences. Hearing them talk about The Depression, making ice cream from scratch or their first store bought outfit is enjoyable. She loves what she calls the “girl talk” that takes place in art class.
“To see the light in their eyes when they talk about their childhood is so rewarding,” said Wells. “They have such a passion for life. I wish everyone could see what I see.”
Classes such as these give seniors a sense of purpose now that their lifestyles have gone from having a career and/or a family to raise to finally having time for themselves. Not only does it keep them from being lonely, it promotes personal growth, sharpens cognitive abilities and helps with hand-eye coordination.
If you are interested in donating to the new art building at Lake Forest Village, call Laura Wells at 940.891.6456 or go online to good-sam.com/lakeforestvillage.
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