Virtual art classes help seniors connect during pandemic

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The pandemic is hitting Arizona seniors hard, both physically and psychologically, including the feeling of being shut in and shut off from the world. But virtual art classes can help seniors connect. We learn more from Janet Rees, creative aging coordinator for the Jewish Family and Children’s Service.

Creative aging is a concept that came up ten years ago and it’s initiative to get the older generation more involved in the creative arts. A study has shown that people involved with the arts are more likely to live longer and healthier lives. It’s proven to lessen hospital visits, doctor appointments and medication.

In these programs there’s writing stories, reading stories, performing and even singing (although less of that for audio reasons). They also incorporate dance classes, mostly folk dances.

“We have had Israeli dance classes, belly dance classes any kind of folk dancing is great. It’s available on Zoom, because you don’t really need a partner for that. You can just move and get your mojo on and all of that good stuff by yourself.”

They also have a neat program called the Memory Cafe for elder folks with cognitive issues.

“I love our Memory Cafe. That is for folks who have cognitive issues, and their care partners. So, for those who may have been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s or has some sort of brain dysfunction that is impairing their cognitive value. It’s all arts based.”

People will come and sing songs from their childhood or teen years and watch them light up as they remember all the words to the song. The psychological benefits are tremendous as well. It’s a form of socialization for seniors and Rees says the silver lining is that they can reach everyone, regardless of distance.

Janet Rees/Creative Aging Coordinator, Jewish Family & Children's Service

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