How Is Engaging In Arts And Crafts Beneficial For Seniors?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors have been advised to stay at home and avoid going out for non-essential activities to ensure their safety. As such, there has been a growing interest in #stayhome activities such as indoor exercises and crafts.
In line with that, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) has come up with a series of three activity booklets. They each comprise 16 fun arts-based activities and puzzles which seniors can complete in the comfort of their own homes, by themselves or with family members and caregivers.
For a better understanding of how these activity booklets can make a positive difference for seniors, we spoke to the creative team behind this project!
Meet The Team
Chai Chee Seam, 45, Music and Art Instructor
Joanne Liu, 34, Visual Artist, Art Educator
Karen Koh, 32, Art Therapist, Artist
Lee Sze-Chin, 41, Art Therapist
Moses Sia, 52, Educator-Artist
Q1. How did the idea for the activity booklets first come about?
This idea was first suggested to us by AIC. As we had previously worked together on an arts pilot “Arts Residency in Nursing Homes” by AIC and the National Arts Council, they thought we might be able to help. The aim of the booklets was to provide engaging arts-based activities while providing key COVID-19 information to keep seniors safe while they were staying at home.
Q2. What are the ways you’ve customised the activities in this booklet for seniors/caregivers (such as how you decided on the themes)?
Many of us have worked with seniors through community art and art therapy sessions. This helped us consider the kind of themes and activities which would be suitable and attractive to them. We also wanted to ensure that the booklets would appeal to seniors who might not have ready access to technology or art materials. As such, we kept the activities simple so that they can be completed using items available in their homes.
Q3. What is your personal favourite activity in the booklets? Why?
Generally, we like how all the activities have been localised and the great variety in the range of activities. It would be difficult to choose a favourite! Sze-Chin, for instance, likes the ones that involve making three-dimensional items from paper (e.g. the pop-up card of Geylang Serai Market in the second booklet, My Home, My Kampong), as he likes to see how paper can be beautifully transformed.
Q4. How are the activities in the booklet beneficial to seniors? Can you share some examples?
We were deliberate in our choice of the activities, and they were designed to engage participants’ problem-solving and fine motor skills. As art making is inherently therapeutic, it can also help seniors relax and have pleasant experiences as they take part in the process. With so many messages about COVID-19 out there, we also have chosen to weave in the key ones as reminders for how seniors can remain well and healthy during this crucial period.
Q5. What are some tips you have for caregivers to enable seniors to have a more fun and engaging time?
Some tips include providing seniors with activity choices to try out in a relaxed environment, spacing out the activities so that they are not overly tired, and also using elements in the activities as conversation starters. They do not always have to complete the activity to have fun. We also see these activities as a meaningful way to foster better relationships while being fun and engaging for seniors.
P.S. You can also involve the kids so that it becomes a fun activity for the whole family!
Q6. What other resources or useful websites do you recommend for caregivers hoping to find more art project ideas for their loved ones?
Aside from coming up with the booklets, a few of us have been running the “SilverGood Facebook Group” that provides regular live-streamed activities (such as arts, cooking, and storytelling) intended to engage seniors. AIC has also worked with various partners to develop other art toolkits which offer interesting activities. Alternatively, caregivers can also consider exploring Art Therapy exercises together with their loved ones. Caregivers should start with what is of interest to seniors, then move on to explore what resources might best suit their needs.