An internet search on adult coloring yields an abundance of articles. Many of them are from clinicians and care facilities that treat older adults living with Alzheimer’s or memory loss. The use of coloring books for seniors is relaxing and beneficial in many ways. If you’re looking for a new, creative hobby for you or an older loved one, here are five reasons to consider coloring books as an option.  

1. Adult Coloring Relaxes the Mind

According to the Cleveland Clinic, coloring helps ease stress and relaxes the mind in three ways:

  • It forces you to be present: coloring is a simple act that focuses attention outside of yourself. It takes your mind off of your worries. It’s so effective at quieting thought that psychologists compare its benefits to meditation.
  • Coloring relaxes the brain: because you’re focused on a simple activity, the brain can rest.
  • No judgment: coloring is a low-stakes activity. Whether you are neat or messy, there is no right or wrong way to do it. You’re not judging your performance.

2. Coloring Books for Seniors Bring Out a Sense of Nostalgia 

The coloring craze is popular among adults of all ages. But it is particularly beneficial for older adults living with memory loss because it’s a simple activity they remember from their youth. Moreover, there are no elaborate rules that are difficult to remember. They can indulge in a fun pastime that’s simple to get started. 

Even when adults with memory loss forget recent experiences, they remember events from long ago. As such, coloring can bring back some of their pleasant childhood memories.

3. It’s a Meditative Stress Reliever 

Studies show coloring as an activity has an immediate short-term effect of reducing stress. If you live with a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, anxiousness caused by confusion is a common symptom. Having coloring books on hand can offer a solution to relieve any unease.   

Additionally, the soothing nature of creative activities interrupts worrisome thought patterns. This reduces anxiety by replacing negative thoughts with pleasant ones. Neuroscientist Stan Rodski measured the physiological effect of coloring. He notes that it relaxes the brain and produces therapeutic alpha waves. This is the same wave produced in meditation.

Dr. Rodski is such a proponent of coloring therapy that he published his own coloring books with Jack Dowling in 2015. 

4. Coloring Improves Focus and Motor Skills 

The attention to color, shapes and patterns when coloring helps direct attention and center the mind. 

When practiced often, coloring can also improve hand and eye coordination in older adults. Those with dementia often see impaired hand fine motor skills, so exercises that promote dexterity can be beneficial. 

5. Folks Can Color Together as a Social Activity

Coloring together is an easy bonding activity for older adults. Whether it’s with their peers in a senior living community or with grandchildren—it can be a fantastic group activity. As previously mentioned, coloring books trigger happy memories offering an opportunity for older adults to share with younger loved ones. 

The Best Types of Coloring Books for Seniors 

Luckily there are plentiful options for coloring books and supplies. When it comes to the type of books, seniors should consider opting for those with geometric shapes or patterns.

In the early 20th century, famed psychologist Carl Jung used coloring with his patients as a relaxation technique. He gave them mandalas, circular designs that originated as Buddhist symbols used in meditation. Similarly, when Dr. Rodski, the neuroscientist previously mentioned, created coloring books, he used geometric designs. He reasons that following the repetitious pattern gives the brain the order it loves.

Coloring a pattern stimulates both hemispheres of the brain. Selecting colors uses the right brain, the side of creativity and imagination. While working with the pattern and symmetry uses the left brain, the side of logic.

Research on the effect of coloring a mandala showed that 20 minutes of coloring gave participants a higher level of mindfulness. They also reported feeling more content, calm and energetic.

Additionally, you don’t need to use only crayons; you can opt for colored pencils or markers. 

Leveraging Coloring Books for Seniors 

A simple activity like coloring has many benefits for seniors. It calms the mind and allows you to enter a meditative state. Other benefits of coloring include improved focus and eye-hand coordination. For adults coping with memory loss, coloring stimulates happy childhood memories. It’s an ideal social activity to share with grandchildren or other family members. 

If you care for an older adult or someone with Alzheimer’s or memory loss, try incorporating coloring into their routine.