Updated: Jul 20
August 2nd was National Coloring Book Day. The day helps to connect us to our childhood and the simplicity of filling in the lines to create a picture. The McLoughlin Brothers published the first coloring book in the late 1800s and in the 1920s they merged with the Milton Bradley Firm. Coloring is no longer for the kids. The sales of adult coloring books have exploded in the last five years and it's not without reason. Many adults find that coloring brings a sense of peace and allows them to reset the stressors in their life.
While the day to recognize coloring books may have passed, the benefits of coloring last all year long and those benefits extend to our aging population as well.
Coloring for therapy originates from chromotherapy which uses colors to boost mental wellbeing. At its most basic explanation, think in terms of how calming it can be to stare at a crisp blue sky or the energy you feel after sitting in the sun. To help seniors, coloring can have the same benefit and more to boot.
Coloring has been compared to the act of meditating because it does many of the same things. It helps us to be present in the moment, provides a break from the day-to-day, and calms the mind.
Additional Benefits of Coloring to help Seniors
Coloring can boost motor skills. Coloring wih pencils or crayons works hand and eye muscles in conjunction thereby increasing hand-eye coordination. Gripping the pencils and crayons additionally can boost dexterity.
Coloring is a form of self-expression. As seniors age, they often lose touch with the part of themselves that allowed them to have creative expression. Coloring an advanced age can bring back that aspect of their life.
Coloring gives a feeling of accomplishment. Many seniors face daily boredom. Boredom and having nothing to do can lead to feelings of uselessness, loneliness, and depression. Coloring creates a goal that can be accomplished. Once completed, the colored piece is now a physical representation and reminder of a completed project.
Coloring improves mental health in an aging population. Scientific studies starting in 2005 concluded that coloring is a viable way to decrease anxiety and symptoms of depression. Similarly, it was found that colored mandalas (a geometric arrangement of symbols.) led to lower levels of anxiety than coloring blank paper. The thought is that structured coloring had more impact on stress reduction than unstructured coloring.
Coloring can help those with Alzheimer's. Because images can stimulate memories, those with Alzheimer’s can sometimes recall memories if they are coloring things that are representative of their past like vintage cards, houses, and settings.
If you would like to share the activity of coloring with a loved one that is older, offer the activity with quality materials. Colored pencils and watercolor pencils will blend to help create more realistic results. Use age-appropriate coloring books that are comprised of quality paper.
There is a wide variety of options for coloring books. Check out a few that we love.
At Blakey Hall, we have activities such as coloring to engage and stimulate our residents. If you are looking for a place for a family member, reach out today to schedule a tour of our facility to see firsthand how we place our residents' health and happiness as a priority every day.