Geriatric Therapeutic Coloring: Childish or Genius?

Adult coloring has become a trend over the past few years, with thousands of companies developing intricate detailed coloring books for teens and adults. But, do we know the benefits of what “coloring” can provide? And, what about the elderly population? Has the market advanced enough to provide for the needs of an already unserved population? 
First, lets look into the benefits of therapeutic coloring as a medium for intervention, or activity. 
Research into the effects of coloring activities for people living with dementia show positive outcomes, most notably a decrease in agitation and anxiety.
The therapeutic value of coloring comes in part from a participant’s need to concentrate and in doing so they may ‘forget’ their troubles whilst in the midst of a coloring activity. Relaxation and meditative moods often follow.  

The Benefits of Coloring for Seniors

  • Improves moods
  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces agitation
  • Promotes socialization and reminiscing
  • Provides an outlet for self-expression
  • Helps to maintain motor function
  • Improves dexterity (grip control)
  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Encourages cooperation
  • Promotes mindfulness (full attention & concentration required)
  • Provides a sense of accomplishment

TR & AD professionals can see first hand these various benefits with the elderly population in terms of coloring, but many times people associate our elders with children. How can we provide high quality artistic coloring programming when the coloring sheets are either too complex (small intricate designs) or too childish? (cartoons characters, child-like designs?). 
By utilizing coloring materials that are geared towards our elderly population, we can be more confident in our abilities to provide the best possible programming and intervention services. Quality in what we use for our programming matters and becoming aware of and connected to organizations and programs that can expand and bring our programming to the next level is crucial to sometimes prove ourselves and what we know works for our residents and clients. 

The organization Open Space Arts specializes in coloring sheets geared towards the geriatric population, utilizing the idea  of bold lines, and open spaces, and large non-intricate details. Along with the idea that coloring should evoke feelings, memories, and improve moods; this organization has gone a step further in incorporating pictures designed from the 1940’s and 1950’s. In doing this, the coloring is not just utilize the affronted benefits but is also incorporating the power of reminisce therapy. The idea that, seeing, and talking about items, people, and ideas from the past can improve cognition, mood and improve moods especially from those suffering from various forms of dementia.
By utilizing this subscription service, you can enhance your coloring programming and interventions by giving our residents the dignity they need and deserve by providing them with coloring opportunities that are tailored to there specific population. 
You can learn more about Open Space Arts at the following: 
Website: https://www.openspacearts.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/openspacearts18/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/openspacearts18/

Below are sample images of their coloring sheets. 
1. 1940’s radio & knitting needles with Yarn 
2. 19040s/50s shoes with foot stool 

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