The Power of Writing

January 26, 2015 - Serving Seniors

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast according to a recent New York Times article. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.writing 2

It didn’t take a convincing article from a major publication for Joe Gavin, Wellness and Transition Manager, to start a writing group for our seniors.  He’s been leading a group for the past two and a half years at one of our affordable housing complexes, Potiker Family Senior Residence.  The Potiker Writing Group consists of 12-15 dedicated residents who come together to explore expression through the written word. “We spend our time reviewing writing that the residents have completed on their own time and do writing exercises in class. There is a teaching element to the endeavor, but we are primarily focused on each person putting their creative talents and imagination to use” says Joe.

Joe explains the purpose of the group as a time to get into a different state of mind and he provides an arena where people can let their imaginations run wild and produce something unique, personal and valuable to share with others.  “All of us need a break from the logical and linear world that dominates our lives” explains Joe, “I think the residents really enjoy the chance to share a side of themselves with other residents that may otherwise not be afforded to them.”

Joe has noticed a therapeutic element to the writing group that is right in line with the research. But most importantly, Joe says “it is the relationships that are either formed or strengthened that have the most meaning. The writing group is an opportunity for the residents to put their own signature on crafting that community spirit.”  While writing is not typically on our list of priorities, it appears we could all benefit from putting pen to paper from time to time and perhaps we should reconsider its place in our lives.

3 responses to “The Power of Writing”

  1. I also read the New York Times article with great interest. I think what Joe is doing with these seniors is magnificent. I have no doubt that it is very beneficial to their mental functioning and overall wellbeing.

    When my mom developed aphasia and lost the ability to write coherently, we gave her sheets of paper to make scribbles on, and she worked for hours filling them with her “writing.” While this level of activity is far below the level of writing described in the Times article, I know that it helped my mom maintain her level of mental functioning and wellbeing. She also took great pride in it. It really didn’t matter that no one else could read it.

    We should all be thankful to Joe for the wonderful work he is doing!

  2. writing is a good habit, it will positivity in you and that will also help in improving your health.

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