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What is Art Therapy And How Can It Benefit Those Living with Dementia?

What is Art Therapy And How Can It Benefit Those Living with Dementia?

A senior man taking an art class at the Alzheimer's and dementia care in Iowa

Art therapy has the power to transform the lives of those living with dementia, offering a unique and enriching experience that goes beyond words. At CountryHouse, we understand the significance of art therapy in Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Iowa. Since our opening in March 2020, we’ve been on a mission to harness the creative spirit to enhance the well-being of our residents. In this blog, we will explore the profound benefits of art therapy, each one offering a world of possibilities for those facing the challenges of dementia.

Continue reading below to learn more about what art therapy is, the many benefits it has to offer, and the many fun and engaging creative activities that memory care residents can try:

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that utilizes the creative process of making art to improve an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It offers a safe and non-verbal way for individuals to express themselves, reduce stress, and enhance their cognitive abilities. Art therapy is particularly beneficial for those living with dementia, as it taps into their creativity and memories in a gentle and nurturing way.

Benefits of Art Therapy for Memory Care Residents

Now that you know a little bit about what art therapy is, it’s time to take a closer look at the many benefits it can have for those living with dementia, including residents of our Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Iowa:

#1.) Enhanced Communication

Art therapy provides a remarkable avenue for enhanced communication among those living with dementia. In the absence of verbal expression, residents can convey their thoughts, emotions, and experiences through the strokes of a brush, the choice of colors, or the texture of clay. This non-verbal dialogue not only bridges communication gaps but also deepens connections between residents and their caregivers. 

It fosters a sense of being understood and valued, thereby reducing frustration and anxiety. The ability to communicate through art brings a renewed sense of self-expression, allowing residents to reclaim their voice and share their inner worlds.

#2.) Improved Cognitive Function

Engaging in art therapy is a cognitive workout that stimulates various regions of the brain. Through creative tasks such as painting, sculpting, or crafting, residents engage in problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and memory recall. These mental exercises help maintain and even improve cognitive function, allowing residents to retain essential skills for a longer duration. Moreover, the act of creation can evoke memories from the past, sparking conversations and storytelling that further exercise cognitive abilities.

#3.) Emotional Release

Art therapy serves as a therapeutic release valve for residents, enabling them to process and release pent-up emotions that may otherwise lead to frustration and agitation. The act of expressing emotions through art, whether it’s the portrayal of happiness, sadness, or nostalgia, provides a safe and constructive outlet. 

Through this process, residents find relief from emotional burdens, leading to a greater sense of emotional well-being. This emotional release also facilitates more peaceful interactions with caregivers and fellow residents, fostering a calmer and more positive living environment.

#4.) Increased Self-Esteem

Art therapy offers a unique opportunity for residents to experience success and achievement, contributing to a heightened sense of self-esteem and self-worth. As residents complete art projects and witness the tangible results of their efforts, they gain a sense of accomplishment that transcends their cognitive challenges. This newfound confidence extends into other aspects of their daily lives, empowering them to tackle tasks with a renewed sense of capability and purpose. The boost in self-esteem is not only personally fulfilling but also positively impacts their overall quality of life.

#5.) Sensory Stimulation

Engaging in art activities provides a multi-sensory experience that stimulates residents’ senses, promoting sensory awareness and engagement. The tactile nature of art materials, such as the texture of clay or the smoothness of paintbrushes, engages the sense of touch. The vibrant colors, varied shapes, and visual creativity stimulate the sense of sight, while the process of creating art often involves listening to soothing music or the sound of paintbrushes against canvas, enhancing the auditory experience. This holistic sensory engagement contributes to residents’ overall well-being by keeping their senses active and attuned to the world around them.

A senior woman painting flowers on canvas

Art Activities and Ideas

Art therapy comes in all shapes and sizes! No matter what an individual is interested in or what their mobility level is, there is something for everyone. Listed below are some of our favorite ways to engage residents in art therapy:


Encourage residents to explore their artistic talents through painting with watercolors, acrylics, or even finger painting.


Provide coloring books and colored pencils to residents, allowing them to express themselves through color. For older adults with young grandchildren, this can be a fun way to connect and participate in art together. 

Seasonal Crafts: 

Engage residents in crafting activities that align with the current season or upcoming holidays, such as making Valentine’s Day cards. Donate the Valentine’s Day cards to local foster children or children’s homes. 


Offer pottery classes where residents can shape and mold clay into beautiful creations. Being able to be hands-on is also great for keeping up with their fine motor skills. 

Onsite Creative Sessions: 

Host onsite art sessions, including music, painting, cooking demonstrations, and crafts, to keep residents engaged.

Tour the Best Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care in Iowa 

At CountryHouse, we are dedicated to creating joyful living experiences for those with dementia through innovative approaches like art therapy. Our 52-week curriculum of life enrichment activities, including art therapy, is designed to maximize wellness, strengthen connections, encourage meaningful engagement, and foster personal growth. We firmly believe that dementia shouldn’t hold our residents back from leading a life full of fun and engagement. 

If you would like to learn more about our community and how our life enrichment program bolsters our residents’ well-being, we invite you to contact us or schedule a tour! CountryHouse is committed to providing the highest quality Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Iowa, ensuring that your loved ones thrive in a supportive and loving environment.

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