From Elizabeth Norton

Aging? Mayo says craft [art!] for health


Photoshop Filter Called Photocopy
Photoshop Filter Called Photocopy

If you thought that Chronological Enrichment would give you an excuse to stop making art — you were wrong.

As reported by the LA Times’ Melissa Healy (follow her on Twitter), and posted in the Pioneer Press and the Seattle Times, part of the Mayo Clinic’s Study of Aging indicates that “…if you can’t resist a good crafts project, new research suggests that socializing, crafting and engagement in the arts may all help to hold cognitive impairment at bay.

A Mayo Clinic Study of Aging found that among cognitively healthy people 85 to 89 who were followed for four years, engaging in significant social activity in mid- and late life drove down the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment by 55 percent. Engagement in in craft projects in mid-to-late life drove the risk of such intellectual decline down 45 percent.”

I’m confined to my chair. Now what?

I have always said that everyone (everyone!!) should have something that gives them great joy that they can have complete control over, and that they can do for themselves, by themselves, sitting in a room all by themselves. Why? When confined to a chair not by choice the best response is “Huzzah! I get to do my stuff!” as opposed to “I’m in this chair forever. Shoot me now.”

What to do?

For some it’s an easy choice to keep on with the arts and crafts of a lifetime:  knitting, crocheting, making baskets, painting, drawing, making music, writing poetry, carving. Vision impaired? Be inspired by Elizabeth Norton, who took up pottery after a lifetime of printmaking and painting.

It’s harder for gardeners

It’s harder for gardeners, but I urge them to take this challenge. Most gardeners have been limited to the size of their yards, patios or windowsills. Chronological Enrichment and confinement lets them leave those limits behind. How? Imagine an unlimited budget and a capable and willing staff. Now design the castle, tropical paradise or other “garden of your dreams.” Order up the garden catalogs, consult the garden books that enlivened your imagination, and request new ones from the library. You are on your way to creating a great weed-and-pest-free garden without one bit of dirt shoveled by you.

Now get back to making art.

Melissa Healy  Healy has been covering the links between occupations and aging for some time. See, for example, “One’s Occupation helps determine brainpower into old age, study says.