Why Museums are Important for Seniors

As adults continue to age and enter into their retirement years, there’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of staying busy. Being an active older adult, whether this means going out to dinner with friends or taking a walk each morning, has been linked to decreasing the risk of depression and isolation, while increasing cognitive health. While any type of activity is beneficial, new research suggests that visiting a museum might actually help you live longer.

According to the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University College London found that older adults who visited just one exhibition a year had a 14% lower risk of early mortality. In addition, those who visited exhibitions regularly benefited from a 31% lower risk of early death. Not only can visiting museums promote longevity, it also provides a wide variety of both emotional and physical benefits.

Benefits of Visiting Museums

Whether you prefer art, history, or nature, there truly is a museum for everyone to enjoy. Along with being entertained, especially during winter months, the act of visiting a museum can help stimulate your emotional and cognitive skills. The next time you find yourself at a museum, here’s what you’re doing for yourself without even knowing it:

Nurturing Your Inner Student
No matter your interest or museum of choice, visiting an exhibition allows you to learn something new while exercising your critical thinking skills. All museums require us to be still, interpret what we’re seeing, and reflect on its meaning. At the end of the visit, you walk away knowing more than when you arrived.

Unleashing Your Creative Side
Art museums, in particular, allow us to tap into our creative sides. As we get older, our creative minds can often get neglected. Visiting an art museum is a great way to exercise our inner artist just by looking at what’s in front of us.

Building Your Inner Circle
As we age, the importance of socializing becomes important for our health. Isolation can affect many older adults. Visiting a museum gives us the opportunity to socialize with those around us and provides a common ground for conversation with other museumgoers.

Helping Those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

The benefits of visiting a museum have not been lost on those who care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Museums are even developing specific programs. The American Alliance of Museums highlighted in a piece on “Older Adults and Programming for People with Dementia” some specific programming happening in California. “The Museum of Photographic Arts, in San Diego, CA offers two notable programming initiatives for people with memory loss, and what I find most interesting is their approach to both engagement and assessment.

Tips for Visiting Museums

While making a spur of the moment trip to the museum on a rainy day is a great idea, it can be helpful to do some planning in advance. As you choose which museum you want to visit, you might consider using these simple tips to make your trip more enjoyable.

Call ahead– Before you pack up your car and begin your trip, it’s important to call your museum of choice to check their hours of operation. You might also ask when the busy visiting times are throughout the day in order to avoid crowds.
Utilize audio tours and assistive hearing devices– Many museums offer guided audio tours of their exhibitions for an additional cost. This can enhance your experience, while also allowing you to learn more about what you’re seeing. Check with your museum to see if you need to reserve the audio tour ahead of time.
Book a private tour– Many museums have volunteer docents available to give private tours of the exhibit. Many of these docents study the exhibit ahead of time and are very knowledgeable on the subject matter. Not only can the docents give you an inside look at most exhibits, but they often know more details than what is offered on a brochure or wall description.
Pack water and snacks– If your museum allows you to bring food with you, make sure to take advantage of it. Pack water and your meal or a few snacks with you since you will be walking and standing for long periods of time.
Enjoy with a group– Visiting a museum is a great opportunity for socialization. Invite a few friends or your loved ones to visit with you!

Maplewood Senior Living and Museums

Our Maplewood communities have monthly field trips for residents and a trip to a museum is always a favorite. Delmy Flagg, Memory Care Director at Maplewood at Weston told us about a recent trip to the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston. “The residents found a lot of tranquility visiting the bright beautiful gardens at the museum. They also got to appreciate European, Asian, and American art, sculpture, tapestries and decorative arts. We also talked about the art pieces that were stolen in 1990. They were estimated to be $500 million and the $10 million reward that still open for anyone that may have any information about the stolen pieces of art. Varied conversations about the stolen art lead into a discussion on technology and security and residents commented on how quickly technological security has changed in such a short time.” It goes to show how a museum trip prompts conversation and engagement.

No matter where you live, there’s always a museum to visit. If you’re not sure which museums are in your city or community, you can use this museum finder to see museums in your location. Here are a few museums near our Maplewood facilities to get you started.

For our Maplewood communities in Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland documents the history of rock music including notable artists, producers, and engineers who have influenced the music industry throughout the years. Right now, at the museum, you can unleash your inner musician at the Garage exhibit, which features 12 instrument stations and a freestyle jam session room. Once you’re all rocked out, head over to the Ahmet Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall to learn about rock’s earliest artists.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is home to nearly four million specimens and includes exhibits featuring paleontology, zoology, and archaeology. Now until April, museumgoers can learn about Giganotosaurus, T.Rex’s bigger and badder cousin.

For our Maplewood communities in Connecticut
• Located in New Haven, the Yale University Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of art. From early Italian painting to modern art, this gallery is the place to be for all art enthusiasts. The gallery is free to the public and is currently featuring art by award-winning artist, James Prosek.
• Located in Danbury, the Danbury Museum and Historical Society acquires and preserves the city’s extensive history. The museum highlights historical buildings that would have been demolished if it weren’t for the loyal citizens of Danbury.

For our Maplewood communities in Massachusetts
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston features the incredible art collection of Mrs. Gardner, including pieces by John Singer Sargent and Sandro Botticelli. The Museum also highlights its highly publicized robbery in 1990.

Pursuing Personal Growth at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important continuous learning is for brain function and overall health. That’s why our residents have new and exciting opportunities to learn each day. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or schedule a tour of one of our many communities, please contact us.

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