Retirement opens up time to pursue all sorts of new, or old, hobbies. Crafting is a nice way for retirees to practice creativity and have fun making something with their own hands.
“It’s definitely a relaxer,” said Kara Beckett, a sales associate at Michaels craft store in Columbia. “It can help your mind get off of just anything. It can help just make you happy.”
Various studies suggest artistic crafting as a way to decrease the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults. One 2015 study in Neurology Journal, followed a group of people 85 years and older, signaling that crafts we may have loved in our youth are just as beneficial in old age.
According to the study, “these activities may also increase cognitive reserve, maintain neuronal function, stimulate neural growth and recruit alternate neural pathways to maintain cognitive function.”
Where to start
Beginning a craft and exercising creativity is not only enjoyable, but good for health.
At work, Beckett said she has noticed three popular beginner crafts: painting, jewelry-making and knitting.
When it comes to starting a new craft, level of difficulty and price can be considerations. Painting and knitting can be relatively inexpensive to tackle, Bennett said.
“If just starting out, you get just the normal acrylic paints,” she said. “That’s probably going to be pretty cheap for that.”
As a painter herself, Beckett added, “I know that helps with stress and stuff, too.”
In addition to an easy entry point for cost, painting is an accessible activity for all levels of mobility since you can paint whatever you like, Bennett said.
Knitting costs can depend on the kind of yarn and what size craft is being tackled. From Bennett’s observations, jewelry-making is popular among older adults at the moment, but can be pricier.
Even so, bracelet-making kits are popular among grandparents to craft with their grandchildren, Bennett said.
Scrapbooks are one way to experience crafting and also reflect on the past.
Lifeline published an article in February to explain how scrapbooking engages the brain, encourages social engagement, promotes creativity and influences mood.
According to the article, “Being creative helps keep our brains agile and active, and you don’t have to be an artist to reap the benefits. Scrapbooking is a creative activity even the least artistic among us can succeed at.”
Scrapbooks can be both easy to accomplish and a family heirloom, according to Lifeline.
Other starter crafts include collage-making, coloring and sewing — the possibilities are limitless.
“Just have fun with it, really. It’s your craft, you can make it how you want,” Beckett said. “Just make it your own.”