Retirement is the chance to do everything we’ve always wanted to do (but never had time for). Spend mornings on the porch with a cup of coffee. Travel to visit friends and fun locations. Work on the hobby you’ve always loved. Doing things that engage and inspire us will help keep retirement enjoyable and fulfilling – and can also help us age well. In fact, research shows that participating in music and the arts, for example, has the potential to improve the well-being, health and independence of retired seniors.
“When you say the arts, people automatically think of sculpture, painting, playing an instrument and things like that,” says Jake Quigley, Executive Director of Waterstone at the Circle. “For retirees who may not think of themselves as artistically inclined or interested in things like that, they may wonder what on earth these activities have to do with a fulfilling retirement. However, there’s a lot of evidence that participating in the arts in any way doesn’t just improve cognitive function and overall well-being. It’s also incredibly fun.”
Don’t forget, says Jake, that some of the world's most famous musicians, writers and painters created their most engaging and famous works in their later years. Think of Claude Monet, or Grandma Moses. But you don’t have to have grand visions of artistic success in order to be enriched by the arts.
“You just need to find something that speaks to you, whether that’s taking painting classes, attending the symphony, participating in a dance class or visiting art museums,” says Jake. “The arts speak to us all on a different level, and creativity can be expressed and enjoyed in seemingly endless ways. There’s a reason why we talk about music therapy and art therapy – it’s because these creative endeavors feed our souls, minds and bodies and connect us with something bigger than ourselves.”
The Importance of Art Therapy
There’s no doubt that the arts enhance our lives. Going to an art museum, attending a lecture, planting a garden (yes, that’s art) and other forms of creative expression give us joy and allow us to feel the satisfaction of making something beautiful. Retirement is the perfect time to explore this creative side of ourselves, because – finally – you have time to explore the things you want to do without having to worry about making a career out of it.
There’s also something incredibly satisfying about turning the idea of “retirement” on its head and taking risks by trying something completely different. Many retirees these days are going into their “second acts,” which means pursuing passions they might not have had the opportunity to do in their younger years. With all the life experiences you’ve had, why shouldn’t you channel that into some form of creative expression?
That’s the focus of art therapy, which is a specific form of therapy that allows individuals to use creative mediums to express their feelings and emotions. In art therapy, it’s the process that you go through to create the artwork that is important, not so much the end result. While there are official licensed art therapists who use these techniques to help individuals process grief, loss and other negative emotions, unofficial art therapy can be used by anyone who wants to express themselves in some way. No talent or training is required – it’s all about allowing your emotions to guide you in a creative journey. Here are some ways retirees can use art therapy to create meaning in their senior years:
- Self-expressive art, which is work that’s done for the pleasure of simply making art. This can be anything from taking a sculpture class, planting a beautiful garden or decorating cakes. It’s simply creating for the joy and pleasure of creating.
- Therapeutic art, which is using art to explore emotions and life transitions. This can be writing a book of your memoirs, painting a piece of art that represents your childhood or other artistic endeavors.
- Legacy projects, which are creative expressions that are generated for the purpose of sharing your life, lessons, memories and other important things with your family and younger generations. This could be putting together a memory box, making gifts or putting together a scrapbook of family photos.
The Importance of Music Therapy
Music has the power to uplift us, unlock our emotions and transport us to a different place. Think of a particularly beautiful symphonic movement or a song from your childhood that has great meaning to you. Music is an important, ever-present part of our lives that also has many benefits. It can improve our health, improve our memory and enhance our moods.
Evidence shows that individuals who make music a part of their everyday lives are happier, have a greater sense of well-being and are more socially active. For those of us who are of retirement age, music can broaden our social circle and connect us to intergenerational devotees while also improving our health and helping sharpen our mental acuity.
Music therapy is a form of therapy that uses music as a way to connect with and share emotions and feelings. Individuals participating in music therapy can play an active role or a passive role, whichever they prefer. Both options are beneficial in their own ways.
For retirees, making music is a chance to explore life and be a part of something bigger, and best of all, you don’t need to have any formal training to enjoy it. You may choose to learn how to play the guitar and finally jam to those tunes you’ve always loved. You could write songs that express your feelings or share your life experiences. Or you can join a choir and make music together with others. It’s all up to you.
“Music and art play such an important role throughout our lives, and retirement is an excellent opportunity to explore your creative side,” says Jake. “At Waterstone at the Circle, we encourage our residents to explore the artistic endeavors that Boston has to offer. From music to art to dance to theater and so much more, we have so many ways for residents to create and be a part of the arts.”
If you’d like to learn more about how music and the arts can enrich your retirement, or if you’re wondering how a luxury retirement community like Waterstone at the Circle can help you live a vibrant, active and fulfilled life, contact us today at 617.431.1880.
Luxury Senior Living in Boston
Waterstone at the Circle, located in Boston’s historic Cleveland Circle neighborhood, is more than just independent living in Boston … it’s a sophisticated urban setting for today’s active seniors. Enjoy best-in-class service and a vibrant lifestyle with arts and cultural, and historical attractions right outside your front door. From high-end amenities to gourmet dining and more, experience the best of city and suburban life at our upscale senior living community located on the crossroads of Brookline and Chestnut Hill.
Elegant Independent Living Apartments
Each of our 92 independent living apartments is the height of luxury and modernity, with sophisticated design, upscale features and stunning views of the city. Create the urban senior living experience you want with one- or two-bedroom apartments, a variety of floor plans and monthly rentals.
Senior Living Supportive Services
As an over-62 community, residents may require support from time to time. That’s why we’ve developed an on-site coordinated care program, in cooperation with our premier community partners, that allows our independent living residents to receive the assistance they need.
The best part? Residents don’t have to leave our senior living community – or even their apartment – to receive high-quality support. They can receive the services they need, when they need it, in the comfort of their own homes or in our on-site therapy gym.
Waterstone at the Circle is the opposite of retiring. . . it’s a place to enhance your active, on-the-go lifestyle. Call 617.431.1880 for more information or to schedule a visit to our vibrant Boston independent living community and discover The Circle lifestyle today!