Creative activity such as painting, dancing, music therapy, singing, are often used in nursing and care homes as part of the therapeutic regime for people living with dementia and there are a number of reasons for doing so.
According to a review of the scientific literature on the topic, creativity can: reinforce connections between brain cells, including those responsible for memory; promote emotional resilience; encourage a positive outlook and a sense of well-being; act preventively, since by reading and writing one can expand his or her own vocabulary, and it is known that learning new things is protective against memory loss.
There is still the widely held view in our society, that elderly people are not able to learn new things and expand their skill-set, but this goes against what researchers found out, namely that creativity exists throughout the entire life of a person and is not necessarily related to a specific age. The problem is, in other words, not that elderly people are not able to be creative, as much as it is that they may lack motivation to be creative since they may not have occasions to express their creativity.
It is therefore important to identify which factors may cause obstacles to creativity in the elderly (for example health conditions, such as arthritis, or socio-economic factors, like low income, ethnicity, or sex for example), in order to be able to find a solution to overcome those obstacles and allow elderly people to express their creativity.
source: Hanneman, B.T. (2006), “Creativity with dementia patients: can creativity and art stimulate dementia patients positively?”, Gerontology, 52(1), pp.59-65