Creative Activities for Adults & the Benefits

From improved mood to enhanced brain function, learn how creativity helps mental health here!

Creative activities for adults are more meaningful than simply being “arts and crafts”. How creativity helps mental health is an important area of research. Studies show extensive benefits for seniors. Both experts and elders are asking, “Does creativity decline with age?” 

Read on to learn how creativity helps mental and physical health in seniors. Plus, our list of activities will inspire craftiness and increase quality of life. 

How Creativity Helps Mental Health

In older adulthood, seniors face a few potentially life-changing issues, such as the following: 

  • Increasing the number and severity of health problems
  • Declining functional abilities
  • Financial constraints
  • Loss of social status
  • Psychological changes
  • Chronic illness

These challenges can be difficult and demanding. Above all, these issues require a creative approach. 

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is generally defined as a process that involves the following: 

  • Openness to new ideas and approaches
  • Searching for an original solution to a pressing challenge/problem
  • Exploring cognitive and emotional range 
  • Making meaningful products
  • Generating novel uses, associations, attributions, elements, images, or operating systems
  • Recognizing a problem
  • Producing a plan or product clearly not present before
  • Experimenting with new ideas

According to experts, creativity is an asset for older adults. It provides a guide for the elderly as they navigate health, functional, and financial limitations among other potential problems associated with aging. 

How The Creative Process Helps Improve Health

The creative process challenges individuals to accumulate skills, manipulate tools, and locate resources. The result? A unique vision or idea, expressed clearly and thoughtfully. 

The creative process offers a channel for one to respond to life’s uncertainties. For older adults, creative activities can provide the following: 

  • Deepened understanding of self 
  • Involvement in purposeful or meaningful activities
  • Strengthened sense of self
  • Empowerment
  • Competency 
  • Contribution to the world
  • Personal growth

Creativity is a vital opportunity for older adults to experience expression beyond the limitations of age. It allows seniors a new perspective and enables them to move past their current problems. Creative activities create a safe place for exploration, regardless of age. 

Benefits of Creativity

Beyond being a new and exciting process on its own, creativity has extensive benefits for elder health. 

The potential benefits of creativity include: 

  • Enhanced mental clarity
  • Increased awareness
  • Improved expression of experiences
  • Resolution of conflict
  • Continued adaptation
  • Improvement of emotional states
  • Physical healing
  • Emotional freedom
  • Increased engagement and enjoyment 
  • Skills mastery
  • Reduction of stress hormones (i.e. cortisol)
  • Signs of aging reversed in the brain

Creativity can be a key part of well-being in later life. Older adults with anxiety, depression, social concerns, and low self-esteem have found that creativity can offer an opportunity for relaxation and an added sense of control. 

Fun List of Creative Activities for Adults

Starting from square one? Creative activities do not have to be grand to be great!

Super easy, simple, and free activities are available online. Many senior centers also provide unique experiences for older adults in their local community. 

To get creative juices flowing, try the following activities: 

  • Listening to audiobooks
  • Learning how to play an instrument
  • Working with clay 
  • Taking art classes at the Virtual Senior Center or local recreation center events
  • Painting with watercolor
  • Crocheting cute critters 
  • Mastering dialogue, character building, and setting through storytelling
  • Taking up photography
  • Learning how to draw
  • Signing up with or, resources that connect and inspire creativity and art and craft ideas
  • Joining an online senior theatre for older actors
  • Performing in a play
  • Participating in a collaborative poem activity
  • Attending a creative writing class
  • Becoming a member of an older adult choir
  • Signing up for a creative drama workshop 
  • Singing along with a musical 

Unique Ways to Get Creative

The creative process can happen almost anywhere. Whether alone or with a group, these activities do not have to be structured to be beneficial. Bust the boredom by choosing a new activity to participate in.

Activities included in the list below are creative endeavors that can be started today: 

  • Art Therapy
  • Poetry
  • Journaling
  • Reminiscence
  • Recording an oral history
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Cooking 
  • Birdwatching 
  • Public speaking
  • Drumming 
  • Gift giving
  • Writing 
  • Downloading free activities from UCLArts & Healing

The Bottom Line

The creative process is an opportunity for adults to access out-of-the-box experiences. Beyond the mental and physical health benefits, seniors find that creative endeavors are therapeutic and connect them to other individuals when the common concerns of aging threaten to impose isolation. 

Creativity blooms through local senior centers, free online classes and groups, and is even available to those who wish to get creative on their own. 


Brookdale Senior Living. Books to Spark Your Creativity This Winter. Published January 28, 2021.

Brookdale Senior Living. Stay Social with These 6 Virtual Clubs Perfect for Seniors. Published February 15, 2021.

Brookdale Senior Living. 5 Hobbies That Are Also Good For Your Health. Published March 8, 2021.

Castpra-Binkley M, Noelker L, Prohaska T, Satariano W. Impact of Arts Participation on Health Outcomes for Older Adults. J Am Aging Assoc. 2010;4(4):352-367. 

Flood M, Phillips KD. Creativity in older adults: A plethora of possibilities. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2007;28(4):389-411. DOI: 10.1080/01612840701252956.

Kaimal G, Ray K, Muniz J. Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making. Art Ther (Alex). 2016;33(2):74-80.  

Lifetime Arts. What is Creative Aging? Accessed March 2021.

Pietrangelo J. Being Creative Can Make Your Golden Years More Enjoyable. Published October 19, 2017.

Bagan B. Aging: What’s Art Got To Do With It?

Previous articleSimple & Efficient DIY Garden Ideas
Next articleSkin Care for Seniors: Importance, Tips & More
Our team of dietitians, chefs and fitness experts love to share helpful information and tips to make living your best life as easy as possible. We stand for longer and healthier living through what we eat and how we live.