Joplin Origami Club
Established to continue and promote the ancient art of Origami.

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Origami and Seniors:

   There are many seniors especially those who are retired who like to stay active. They are always on the lookout for projects and activities that can help time pass and stimulate their bodies and minds. One great activity for seniors is origami. Many people think that origami is just for kids, but it can be great for seniors too. Learning origami can improve brain function. Therefore it is not only ideal for children but senior citizens too.

Brain Exercise

   Origami is actually good exercise for the brain. Learning how to fold paper can help create new neural pathways in the brain. There are many patterns available ranging from easy to challenging so origami is a great activity to keep seniors occupied and prevent them from being bored. Origami can be challenging but at the same time it is a very affordable hobby. Origami paper can be brought from most office supply or art supply store and there are many books and even free videos online that can help seniors learn how to do origami.

   One of the most popular patterns is the paper crane. Japanese children learn to fold the crane early in their lives. Origami is a tranquil activity that does not require plenty of muscle. It relaxes the mind while keeping the hands occupied. There are many things you can make with a single sheet of paper. Folding designs can help seniors ward off depression and if done in a social setting help them keep in touch or make new friends.

Hand-Eye Coordination

   Origami is also great for hand and eye coordination. The use of the hands can help stimulate the locomotor part of the brain. This is especially helpful for seniors that suffered stroke. It is a good form of physical therapy. Paper folding stimulates the cognitive area of the brain. When the hands are active, electrical impulses are sent to the brain activating the right and left hemisphere. Aside from stroke therapy it can also help with seniors who are undergoing injury rehabilitation.

   Seniors can also get emotional satisfaction from origami. When one finishes a certain design there is a feeling of satisfaction and pride. The more challenging the design; the greater the satisfaction. 3D comprehension and imagination are also stimulated.

   Aside from decorations, there are many designs seniors can do with origami. There are gift boxes, party decorations, organizers and toys. Origami activates the whole brain. Not only will seniors retain and develop their hand-eye coordination but it can also help them retain their sequencing skills, attention skills, math reasoning, visual skills and social skills.

Other Benefits

   It can also help with manual dexterity, fractions, creativity, measurement and help improve reasoning. While many people do not think this is important to seniors, in many aspects it is. Many seniors are left by themselves the whole day, others reside in retirement homes. Even if origami for seniors is usually viewed as entertainment, the other benefits mentioned above can boost a senior’s self worth and keep them happy and entertained.

   Writing in Psychology Today, science writer Susan Reynolds says it’s important to give the brain new neuronal pathways. That is to say, try new and challenging activities. “The more you do something, the more synapses your brain fires and creates,’’ Reynolds says. “Novelty is great because it will stimulate synapses that have lain dormant or create entirely new ones, because your brain is trying to adapt to process and understand whatever it is that you deem important.” She suggests exercises like playing complicated games that sharpen your ability to read people, building scale models to enhance cognitive skills, taking up origami which requires manual dexterity, hand/eye coordination, and a sharp eye for shapes and spatial relationships and learning calligraphy which involves hand-eye co-ordination and learning new ways of doing things.

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