The arts “enhance overall quality of life”

the arts

Express Yourself

From UCLA Health’s Healthy Years newsletter

December 2016

“Watching an artist paint, a dancer gracefully glide across the stage or a singer belt out a happy tune is witnessing bliss personified.  Children can find that joyful state of absorption rather easily: A single crayon on paper can do it.  As adults, however, we often lose that sense of blissful play, but it can be found again.

‘Because the arts serve as an emotional and physical outlet, they also help to decrease stress and combat depression and loneliness,’ explains Erica Curtis, board certified art therapist and instructor for the UCLA Arts and Healing Social Emotional Arts (SEA) certificate program.  ‘It’s a healthy means of distraction from pains, discomfort or other stressors.’

The Power of Making Music Together

Researchers from the University of Oxford wanted to explore whether singing was a special type of bonding behavior or whether any group activity would build bonds among members.  To test the theory, they set up seven courses: four in singing, two in crafts and one in creative writing.  Each course, made up of weekly sessions, ran for seven months.  Those attending the classes were given surveys before and after individual sessions in the first month, in the third month and at the end of the course.  In the surveys, they were asked to rate how close they felt to their classmates.

At the end of the seven months, all the participants reported similar levels of closeness, but those in the singing group stated feeling closer to their classmates earlier in the process.

Singing also requires breath control, which can improve lung function and decrease stress.  A small study found that regular singing might have a positive effect for those who have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Learning to play an instrument, or dusting off one you used to play, can work wonders on your mood.  A study published in the journal Mental Health Practice found that the use of music as a therapy for people over the age of 65 has a positive influence on well-being by providing enjoyment, social interaction, improved memory and social inclusion.

Moving Your Feet to the Beat Feels Good and May Reduce Fall Risk

Osteoarthritis is common in older adults, and movement helps improve circulation to ease the pain of arthritis.  Dancing alone or with others can be a great way to feel better fast.”  Read more

Make time for physical exercise


Now that I am retired and have the time to exercise, I still have not made it a habit, but I’m not giving up.  Here’s why…

How Exercise Can Help You


“Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, in most cases you have more to lose by not being active.

Here are just a few of the benefits. Exercise and physical activity:

  • Can help maintain and improve your physical strength and fitness.
  • Can help improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do.
  • Can help improve your balance.
  • Can help manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
  • Can help reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being.
  • May improve your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

The key word in all these benefits is YOU — how fit and active you are now and how much effort you put into being active. To gain the most benefits, enjoy all 4 types of exercise, stay safe while you exercise, and be sure to eat a healthy diet, too!

Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they’re doing enough. Each type is different, though. Doing them all will give you more benefits. Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom and cut your risk of injury.”

Try these exercises

“Visit, a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This website has health and wellness information for older adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you can click on a button to make the type larger.”

Hospice care provided choices and dignity for my dying Dad

As the holidays approach, my thoughts are with my family, specifically with my deceased Dad. Three years ago this fall, my father was in hospice care at the same rural nursing home where his own father spent his last days.  At the age of 80, my Dad was dying of cancer and did not want to undergo any further surgery or chemo drugs to prolong his life.  He chose to die while receiving morphine for the increasing pain he endured from the growing tumors in his abdomen.

hospice care

In October, 2013, I took time off of work and visited him while he was in hospice care. After signing in at the desk, I walked into my Dad’s private room which was furnished with a comfortable recliner where he spent much of his time, a television, a dresser, a small refrigerator, and a bed.  He also had his own bathroom.  His room also had two corner windows which let in an abundance of natural light and gave him a view of a small, but pretty little yard.

My Dad looked forward to the periodic visits of his two hospice nurses; it didn’t hurt that they were young and attractive.  I was present during one of their visits and was relieved that they were very caring, loving individuals who only had my Dad’s comfort in mind.  They made changes to his oxygen and medication as he needed.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), “The term ‘hospice’ can be traced back to medieval times when it referred to a place of shelter and rest for weary or ill travelers on a long journey.  The name was first applied to specialized care for dying patients by physician Dame Cicely Saunders, who began her work with the terminally ill in 1948 and eventually went on to create the first modern hospice—St. Christopher’s Hospice—in a residential suburb of London.  Saunders introduced the idea of specialized care for the dying to the United States during a 1963 visit with Yale University.”

Read moreHospice care provided choices and dignity for my dying Dad

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