By Deb DeArmond

“Guess what I did?” Dorothea asked.

“What?” I replied.

“I began drawing. I didn’t even know that I could, but I began drawing and painting. I brought some cards with me that I made. I’ll let you select one.” She spread them across the cushions of the sofa for me to view.

I crossed the room to look at her displayed artwork.

“These are beautiful! Really amazing, Dorothea.” And they were. Beautifully drawn ink and watercolor florals of every type and color.

Her smile told me she was enjoying my reaction.

Dorothea’s a novice, but talented. This is a new endeavor for her. Always learning.

Oh, yes, and I forgot to mention this… Dorothea is 88 years old.

Dorothea also writes music. For forty-plus years she has set Bible verses to her original chorus tunes. She uses her musical gift to bless her friends in her senior by playing piano for chapels and Sunday services. She crochets lap robes, too, in her spare time.

And while she occasionally forgets a name or a detail (who doesn’t?!) she is sharp and her mind works with clarity envied by many, regardless of age.

I was fortunate to spend the afternoon with this wonderful woman who happens to be my son’s grandmother-in-law. She traveled from California to Texas to visit her oldest granddaughter.

I’m always impressed by Dorothea’s commitment to continuing the things that have been with her through the years – her music and her commitment to study God’s Word. I’m also amazed by her curiosity and willingness to try new things.

I know 20-somethings not nearly as motivated.

So it got me to thinking… is there a connection between Dorothea’s creative activities and her ability for mental acuity?

The answer is ‘yes’ according to U.S. News and World Report columnist Barbara Bronson Gray. “Musicians’ brains might have an edge on aging,” her report states. “Study found seniors with musical training outperformed others on thinking, and memory tests.”

In other words, those piano lessons we were forced into as kids might have a bigger payoff than we thought.

How does that help with aging parents? If they had musical training or backgrounds as kids, we should continue to encourage them to use that in their lives today. Read the results of the study here: Edge on Aging

Even listening to music has benefits previously hidden. The Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging has published an excellent resource extolling the virtues of music. Some of the key points of their study includes the following points:

• Listening to music – any style – on a daily basis can result in a drastic decrease in pain. This is especially true for older adults.
• Music, through its influence on mood, can ease depression when added to one’s regular routine.
• Enjoying music while working and doing chores can increase productivity, efficiency and even pure enjoyment of the job

So rather than watching TV with Mom and Dad, listen to music together, take them to concerts, or get them to sing some of their old favorites with you.
You can download the full article here: Living Well Through Music

Even Dorothea’s foray into drawing and painting will have a positive effect on her health. A study by Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University found that the arts have a positive effect on health and illness as we age.

His groundbreaking study identified significant positive outcomes for seniors with Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s who participated in expressive art activities. They included:

• helping individuals relax
• providing a sense of control
• reducing depression and anxiety
• assisting in socialization
• improving cognition
• increasing self-esteem
• nurturing spirituality

If your folks don’t feel creative, touring an art museum together or sharing art books can also be stimulating. You can download the entire article here: Aging Well

So, it appears that art does a body good. So does music, as it brings to life our brains in a way we had never imagined. Use it not only to help Mom and Dad, but start banking those healthy synapses for yourself today!



Deb DeArmond: Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who showed her the path to become a Christ follower 38 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to two perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it. Speaker. Author. Entrepreneur. She is a transplanted Californian who has been a proud Texan for almost 8 years and she Ioves the Lone Star state!

She is optimistically mid-life and excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. She longs to see experienced women find their passion and place in the body of Christ, show up and finish strong. One of Deb’s favorite quotes comes from author Agatha Christie, who said, “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.”

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