For anyone who has wanted to pick up a paintbrush, start a book full of sketches or create colorful objects but hasn’t yet had that time – it is not too late. Taking up an art-related hobby can be especially beneficial for older adults according to researchers.

In fact, creativity might only get better with age because an older brain allows its two hemispheres to work more in tandem, according to Bruce Miller, MD, a behavioral neurologist at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center as reported in Today’s Geriatric Medicine.

A major study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic and published in Neurology studied how participating in arts and crafts could affect memory and thinking problems like Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Approximately 250 people with an average age of 87 participated in the study. At the beginning of the study, no one had memory or thinking problems. During the study, people reported on how much they participated in the arts, which included everything from painting, drawing, sculpting. They also reported on crafts like pottery, quilting, sewing and woodworking.

After an average of four years, the study concluded that people who were engaged with the arts during middle and old age were 73 percent less likely to develop MCI than those who were not engaging in artistic activities.  For the crafters, they were 45 percent less likely to develop MCI than those who did not.

Visual art can also be used as therapy, according research published in Journal of Applied Gerontology, which noted several studies found that visual art therapy can be effective in reducing depressive symptoms, while also improving happiness, peacefulness and satisfaction. The researchers also found evidence that visual art therapy could be useful in addressing Alzheimer’s disease related problems.

Where can adults go to take an art class? Many cities offer free or discounted sessions at community centers and local libraries. Sometimes religious institutions will make these types of classes available as well. Additionally, senior living facilities, such as Brookdale Senior Living offer a plethora of enriching activities designed to spark anyone’s interest. One of the best parts about belonging to a community like Brookdale is that the variety of classes is right at the residents’ fingertips – and can join with their closest friends in the community.

As the article in Today’s Geriatric Medicine noted, years of using creativity throughout one’s lifetime, combined with years of knowledge and lifetime experiences, can cultivate an aging brain – and help to produce the next masterpiece.

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