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Purpose: The purpose of this poster presentation is to assess the efficacy of visual art therapy on the physical and mental health of the geriatric population.

Description: The potential impact of art therapy on cognition and dementia is a growing field of research in the rehabilitative world. Some researchers have found support for certain mediums, such as ceramic painting, while others have explored multimodal treatment programs that integrate art into physical activities. Combining physical activity with an arts and crafts program could posit a significant impact on ADL function and quality of life in older adults. As a growing list of ailments accompany aging, it would be of interest to explore the effects of visual art therapy on life satisfaction, cognitive status, ADLs, and levels of depression in older adults.

Methods: A literature review was conducted on visual art activities and health in the geriatric population using the following search terms: art therapy, visual art, mental health, health, cognition, geriatric, and older adults. Five peer-reviewed studies that were published between 2016 and 2019 were selected for review.

Conclusion: The current literature supports the inclusion of visual art therapy as treatment for older adults. Research shows that art therapy can decrease grief, mourning, negative emotions, and depression while promoting positive memories, socializing, language function and quality of life in older adults. Art therapy has also been correlated with positive effects on emotional status and cognitive status in patients with dementia.

Summary of Use: This poster presentation reviews the benefits of implementing visual art therapy in geriatric rehabilitation in terms of both physical and mental health.

Clinical Relevance: Visual art activities are low-intensity interventions that work to improve both gross motor and fine motor skills in the geriatric population. Art activities can specifically help address deficits of upper body strength, stability, proprioception, and tactile skills. In addition to physical improvements, participant engagement, mood, quality of life, and well-being are positively affected as well. Given the potential benefits, further research is needed to bolster support for the integration of visual art activities with traditional exercise.

Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2020


Visual Art, Physical Therapy, Geriatrics

Medical Subject Headings

Art Therapy, Geriatrics, Combined Modality Therapy, Motor Skills, Quality of Life


Geriatrics | Physical Therapy


Poster accepted for the Spring 2020 Research Day on the San Marcos, CA, campus of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.

The Health Benefits of Visual Art Activities in the Geriatric Population