creativity, education and people concept - senior woman with brush and palette painting still life picture on easel at art school studio

At Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Oro Valley, residents create opportunities to pursue their interests together—often finding new Ways to Age Well in the process.

For example, last year residents Gail Jackson and Ellie Cannan formed the Artists’ Group, which meets regularly to view art, plan a group exhibition, and even offer art classes. The group is comprised of serious artists of all stripes, including professionals as well as passionate aficionados who have been perfecting their chosen medium for decades. 

“At first, people wanted to take field trips, and we’ve done 11 so far, visiting local art exhibits, festivals, and even the public art at the Oro Valley Hospital,” says Gail, a visual artist. “Then we started scheduling open studio tours of our own members, where our group can visit an artist’s home to see their work. They are very prolific, and very talented. You see some wonderful art!”

The Artists’ Group has been meeting monthly for about a year, and consistently draws 13 to 16 people to each meeting. Members include painters, knitters and other needle artists, fabric artists, photographers, and clay and jewelry artists. Gail has worked in watercolors, acrylics, oils, and pastels, and currently enjoys working with Inktense Blocks to create abstract paintings.

“There’s an art to making an abstract work that has soul to it; it has a little mystery and invites you to look closer—that’s what I’m striving for,” she explains.

This summer, the group put together a mixed-media art exhibit at Splendido. “That was big for us,” says Gail. “The installation went well, and it was very well attended.”

Members of the group also offer lessons or demonstrations to other interested members: “Our resident weaver did a weaving demonstration, and we’ve offered a six-session watercolor class,” reports Gail. “Right now, we’re in the middle of a silk scarf-dyeing class.”

The Art Group is a great example of how residents at Splendido Age Well by finding neighbors with shared interests. “It’s just taken off!” says Gail.

A Healthy Pursuit

Gail and the other artists in the Splendido group have created an excellent opportunity to Age Well: not only are they making art regularly, but they are socializing around this shared passion. Both creativity and social interaction have proven benefits for brain health, mood, and even physical health. Many studies have explored these benefits and found:

Repetitive motion found in creative activities like knitting or drawing have been shown to focus the mind and help activate a flow state, or a state of energized focus. 

Studies indicate that creative self-expression (as well as exposure to art) has a variety of benefits for not just cognitive and psychosocial health, but also reduces risks for Parkinson’s disease, various forms of dementia, and cancer.

While you’re engaged in doing something you love, your brain is saturated with the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, known as “the happy chemicals.” This reaction is especially powerful when you’re creating something using your hands. 

Having an active social life in later years may extend your life. People who enjoy stronger social support tend to live longer that those who are isolated—even after taking overall health into account. 

Research shows that when we interact with others, we are training our brains. Social activity can help to improve memory and even protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases.

Social activity has been linked to a stronger immune system, especially in older adults. 

With all these positive effects, artists who socialize together are designing unique Ways to Age Well!

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