Art defies age



Recent study shows that artistic activities could keep our brains stimulated as we get older. Photo credit: Dean Hochman

Picking up a paintbrush could keep you mentally sharp in advancing years. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota published a four-year study that shows picking up an artistic pursuit, such as drawing; painting or sculpting, throughout midlife and later life could delay or prevent dementia.

The study was conducted with 256 people in their 80s, 45 were classified as artists and 18 had pursued an artistic hobby in midlife to later life. Over the study’s four years, some participants naturally developed cognitive problems as they aged. However, those involved with artistic pursuits were 73 percent less likely to develop cognitive issues than those who were not involved with art. There’s also good news if you’re a crafter. Those involved in crafts, social activities, and computer usage were about half as likely to develop cognitive issues. You’re exercising your brain just by reading this article online.

In an interview with Pacific Standard, researcher Dr. Rosebud Roberts explains: “These activities may all have a role in keeping brain cells stimulated, and may help develop new neural pathways. Or continued engagement may enable a person to develop a larger cognitive reserve from which to recruit alternate brain cells to take over function from cells which no longer function.”

If you examine the artistic careers of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, they seem to further support the study’s findings. Picasso completed the “347” Series of 347 etchings in an amazingly short, seven-month period between March 16 to October 5 in 1968. Three weeks later he celebrated his 87th birthday. Matisse was diagnosed with cancer in 1941, yet still experimented with colors and shapes in collages until his death in 1954.

Even if you don’t currently consider yourself an artist, it’s never too late to start. Look at Winston Churchill. When he slowed down his political career, he spent the extra time painting. More recently, even George W. Bush picked up a paint brush after his presidency.

Regardless of your level of talent, it doesn’t hurt to try out a new artistic hobby. It will keep your brain sharp and you might even create a masterpiece in the process.


32 Responses to Art defies age

  1. putu says:

    Another prove that by collecting artwork and having a connection with it could enhance your life span

  2. Werner says:

    In my experience with not only gran parents, but also senior people in general, there is a strong yet unspoken rule of staying busy keeps you young. Keeping a sharp mind not only increases longevity, but also greatly improves quality of life as well. Personally, I can not even draw a stick figure an I look forward to the day that I can myself be considered a senior artist.

  3. Lucy says:

    Totally agree! My mom has been taking art classes and absolutely loves it. Art is good for everyone!

  4. JJ says:

    Having experienced Alzheimer’s with my mother first hand, I know that if art therapy had been available to her, she would’ve benefited greatly and disappeared into the darkness so fast. JJ

  5. JJ says:

    Having experienced Alzheimer’s with my mother first hand, I know that if art therapy had been available to her, she would’ve benefited greatly and NOT disappeared into the darkness so fast. JJ

  6. JackieGraf says:

    I agree with Werner that keeping busy keeps you mentally young. Continuing to create art or even beginning as an artist as you get older helps create an outlet for you to foster your creativity, and having that outlet allows for people to have longer and more fulfilling life.

  7. Tamsin says:

    wonderful how a artwork or creativity can bring positivity to ones life.

  8. Andrey says:

    That is another proof on how people who is in love with arts, and is involved actively in one of them, in this case, painting, keep their minds and souls so fresh to create new ideas. That is why it is so important to motivate kids to get involved with any art discipline.

  9. Andrey says:

    That is another proof on how people who is in love with arts, and is involved actively in one of them, in this case, painting, keep their minds and souls so fresh to create new ideas. That is why it is so important to motivate kids to get involved with any art discipline.

  10. Aleksandar says:

    “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”
    Pablo Picasso

    Spent some extra time painting folks!!

  11. Anne Frank says:

    `Youth has no age!` Picasso :]

  12. Sarah says:

    It makes sense that using your creativity is an exercise for the brain.

  13. Lynnaye says:

    The brain is a truly remarkable attribute that our Creator has crafted. Having a slight favor toward the mechanics of the right hand side of the brain (being an artist myself) I think that having this ‘finding’ is more than just MAGICAL and certainly encourages engagement with the art world in which ever way possible just so that you can enjoy life! Literally!

  14. Avalon Bellos says:

    Connecting with your individual creative energy will always keep the mind active. Artistic expression is an incredibly valuable tool for the human brain.

  15. David Harris says:

    Don’t be shy just give it a try !

  16. Louise Els says:

    There’s an artist in everyone! Start painting!

  17. Dmitry says:

    Completely agree with JJ the Alzheimer’s point

  18. Alena says:

    Life is better with art therapy. Create something that will make the world awesome.

  19. Alex says:

    Where’s my paintbrush!?

  20. Rachel says:

    So I suppose that the latin proverb ‘ars longa, vita brevis’ need not apply in this case!

  21. Joseph says:

    Art has a healing effect in the sense that a child can release their emotions through drawing or painting.

  22. Adrian says:

    the art and creativity keep your soul young.

  23. Alexis says:

    You should always try to develop your skills even if you don’t think you will succeed. I believe everyone has somewhat of an artistic ability in their own unique way!

  24. Julia says:

    “Art is a necessity – an essential part of our enlightenment process. We cannot, as a civilized society, regard ourselves as being enlightened without the arts.” – Ken Danby, painter

  25. Megan L. says:

    Wonderful read! Alas I am a forgetful artist myself and have already lost my mind! Haha

  26. Ali Cravens says:

    What a great article to encouraging keeping the arts in schools!

  27. Chelsea Dale says:

    I just love the idea of youth has no age, and using minds with your creativity as an exercise is awesome.

  28. Michelle Endersby says:

    This article makes perfect sense because when you are painting time stops still!

  29. madhu jain says:

    when you paint and achieve what you wanted to express, the thrill makes you so very happy. You just gave life to your own beautiful creation.

  30. Marilyn LaFroscia says:

    When you are painting you are in your own happy place,I love it

  31. Sunshine says:

    Mom painted and played musical instruments all her life. She will be 85 this year and no sign of dementia. Dance also helps prevent Alzheimer’s. I hope to be dancing in my 90s.

  32. ellie says:

    I am 78 and paint every day. Today I am painting me 15 yr old Maltese. Although she is white I am making her very colorful!!!

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