Members of the group work on their artwork during a meeting last week.

Members of the group work on their artwork during a meeting last week.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Adult coloring books help spread cheer to local seniors

By: Mary Beth Almond | Southfield Sun | Published March 7, 2018

 Each member of the Solaire Coloring Group colors an owl in order to be initiated into the group.

Each member of the Solaire Coloring Group colors an owl in order to be initiated into the group.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

SOUTHFIELD — Coloring has come a long way since grade school. In fact, it’s become a growing trend for a number of adults these days.

Many attribute the trend to the therapeutic benefits of coloring, which can help shift focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and even provide relaxation.

Mildred Anderson, a senior from Southfield, said she wasn’t really into art as a child, but these days, she is having fun embracing her inner artist.

“A couple of years ago, I got an adult coloring book as a gift at Christmastime. I laid it down and never did open it for two months. And then I finally said, ‘Let me see what’s going on here.’ So I started coloring and I couldn’t stop,” she said.

When she was having trouble shutting off her mind, Anderson took to her new book to help her relax.

“When I started, I was coloring at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. — when you can’t sleep, you get up and start coloring, and it relaxes you,” she said.

She said she enjoyed coloring so much that she decided to share its benefits with other seniors by starting an adult coloring group, called the Solaire Coloring Group, within her senior living community two years ago.

The group, which currently has around eight members, meets weekly at her senior living community in Southfield.

“We have done well over 100 pictures,” Anderson said. “We just love it. It relieves our stress. It helps us with concentration, and it helps us to relax.”

When Anderson first recruited her friend Peggy Finney to join the group, Finney initially declined.

“She invited me to the group, and I told her no. And now she tells everybody that I have been with her the longest and am the most thankful,” Finney said. 

Finney was reluctant to join the group because she hadn’t colored since she was a child, admitting that back then, she wasn’t very good at it.

“After I started coloring again, I fell in love with it,” she said. “It takes your mind off everything. You get involved in it. It is so comforting. It is so soothing. It’s like therapy, but you don’t realize it.”

Finney said she never thought coloring could help with mindfulness.

“When you think of coloring, you just think of coloring. You don’t think of it as helping you. You don’t think of it as having any aftereffects.” 

Coloring, Finney said, helps her to unwind. 

“I have a large extended family and 10 great-grandkids, so I need coloring,” Finney said with a chuckle. “It helps me to unwind and puts me in a different world. I just love it.”

This year, members of the coloring group have dedicated themselves to sharing their love for coloring with others in the community. The group has visited a number of other senior living communities in the area to help them start their own coloring groups, and has even begun framing and donating their works to local nursing homes to help spread cheer.

“We decided maybe we could make somebody else happy, and who knows? They may take it up and carry on too,” Finney said.

“We aren’t looking for accolades or anything. We just want to give back to the community,” Anderson added.