Crafting a healthy and happy retirement

Creativity can have a major impact on your health and wellbeing. Picking up knitting needles, a paintbrush, taking up drama or dancing have all proven to have big benefits to people’s mental and physical health.

It is great to see active art and craft groups at many of VMCH’s retirement communities.  Star of the Sea Retirement Village, in Torquay, is one of those communities.

Pauline Shinkfield is one of Star of the Sea’s artists. Before retiring, she taught art in Adelaide and Melbourne. She no longer teaches, but continues to paint and sell her artwork.

 “I can’t believe I’m 80. I still get a lot of satisfaction out of painting. You can lose yourself in the atmosphere of it and just forget about things in general,” she said.

“I’ve made a lot of friends over the years through art and if you sell something that’s very good.”

Star of the Sea Retirement Village’s thriving arts and craft community inspired Pauline to organise an art exhibition at the village at the end of last year. It was a huge success and they donated a portion of the artwork sales, almost $1,400, to the Torquay Surf and Lifesaving Club.

“We know what a good job they do. We wanted to support something in our local community,” Pauline said.

Another Star of the Sea artist, Malcolm Lowe, took up painting in his late 50s to give himself a new challenge in retirement. Now he paints every day, he has sold many paintings and won a few awards.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Malcolm, 67, says.

“I’m really pleased that almost from the beginning people would buy my paintings and actually spend their own money to buy something I’d created.”

A few years before he retired, Malcolm started exploring hobbies he could enjoy in retirement.

 “I wanted to find a challenging activity, something new for me, and at the same time would keep me in touch with people and involved in some sort of group or community,” he said.

“So I explored watercolour painting and through that got to like it a lot.”

The Star of the Sea Craft Group also displayed their work during the four-week exhibition.

Jo-Anne Hyde is a member of the craft group and says it has about 20 members who meet weekly to share their hobby.

“It’s a very pleasant time. We have a cup of tea, a chat and somebody always brings a new pattern or idea to keep us thinking. We laugh and we talk a lot. We talk about the next project and everybody always admires each other’s work.

Jo-Anne believes there are many health benefits to creative hobbies like craft.

“While you are creating things you feel positive. Anything creative you do there’s a satisfaction you get from it and I think that’s got to add to your mental wellbeing,” she said.

The craft group also enjoys giving back to the community with special projects.

Recently they created 70 knee rugs for the neighbouring Star of the Sea Residential Aged Care to give to new residents as a welcome present. They also knit scarves indoor slippers, gloves and hats for children who visit local charity, Cottage by the Sea.

Three great reasons to include a creative outlet to your retirement plan

  1. Creativity improves communication between different parts of the brain and strengthens the part of the brain that is responsible for boosting memory
  2. People who create art and craft are happier. The British Journal of Science surveyed 3,500 knitters and discovered a significant link between knitting frequency and feeling calm and happy
  3. Art and craft is also great for your social life. People enjoy socialising with people who share similar interests.