According to the late Dr. Gene Cohen, founder of the Center on Aging Health and Humanities at George Washington University, each time that we challenge our brains, our brain cells produce new projections called dendrites, which in turn, improve the connections between existing brain cells. When we experience the arts, our brains are challenged, grow and become transformed, whether it's through painting, writing, singing, acting or dancing. Jeanne Kelly, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Encore Creativity for Older Adults, the fastest growing chorale program for older adults in the country, worked with Dr. Cohen on a three year study, "Creative and Aging: the Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults.” She created 3 senior chorales for the study, with 120 singers participating, averaging 80 years. Their health improved, with fewer doctor visits, less medication and less falls. They also experienced higher morale and had reduced risk factors for long-term care.
In the painting workshops that I've hosted for seniors, I can see how the creative experience involves rewiring, growing and changing our brains through the arts - it's never too late!