Coloring-in has long been considered a therapeutic activity suitable for the young and old. Colouring evokes feelings of peace, enjoyment and satisfaction. Revisiting this much loved childhood pastime is well worth the effort.
Adult coloring as a hobby has gained so much momentum over the past few years that it has become a craze, with adult coloring books now available for sale everywhere. Activity professionals no longer need to worry that providing coloring activities for the elderly will be viewed as a childish 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.
Coloring activities are known to:
Everybody has what it takes to be creative. Some people are shy and find it difficult to allow themselves to be creative because their expectations are too high. They presume that art has to fit a mould rather than surrendering to their mind and mood. Encourage participants to suspend judgment and enjoy experimenting with colors.
You will find that once participants engage in coloring, a contemplative mood sets in over the group and silence ensues. The concentration required for the repetitive motion (up-down and back-forth) promotes a calm and reflective atmosphere.
Remember that coloring is an excellent ‘Inter-generational Activity’. Coloring with children can be inspiring. Residents who may not color a picture on their own may be willing to color with their grandchildren or visiting school children. Sharing of this activity will promote conversations and the exchange of thoughts will provide relaxation and enjoyment.
Start a regular coloring-in session and make it a weekly or fortnightly event. Coloring-in sessions should be stimulating, exciting and worthwhile. Send individual invitations and if possible invite a local artist to come and talk to participants and encourage them along.
Colouring sessions are especially suited for people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Finding activities for them can be very challenging; the illness progresses at a different pace for each individual and it can be difficult to ascertain what memories they have retained from their past.
If running a coloring session for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease, avoid surrealistic and bizarre dream-like templates, they may only confuse and irritate them. Choose instead pictures they can recognize from daily life or from their past such as vintage cars, cats, laundry, stoves, trains, a cricket landscape, soccer athletes, flowers, birds, and other images. Also take clues from their past; trips aboard, sports played, and landscapes in which they grew up.
Coloring activities are filled with fun and you may find that many ‘grown-ups’ are children at heart. Everybody likes to create and coloring is the perfect creative introduction to art.
Related: Mandala Printables for the Elderly
Have you found coloring-in to be a worthwhile activity with your clients?