Aging and the Arts


As people continue to live longer, vital aging becomes increasingly important. Numerous scientific studies support the value of arts programming for seniors:
 

Retaining Sharper Intellectual Skills

Older adults who remain socially engaged are more likely to retain sharper intellectual skills.

Brett, CE, et al. (2012). Psychosocial factors and health as determinants of quality of life in community-dwelling older adults. Quality of Life Research, 21(3): 505-516.

Delay Onset of Dementia

Keeping an active mind may help people withstand the ravages of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia or, at very least, delay their onset.

Fratiglioni, L, et al. (2004). An active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life might protect against dementia. The Lancet Neurology, 3(6):343 – 353.

Maintain Motor Skills

Active seniors may also be less likely to experience declines in motor skills like strength, speed and dexterity.

Buchman, AS, et al. (2009). Association between late-life social activity and motor decline in older adults. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(12):1139-1146.

Higher Overall Physical Health

In comparing seniors participating in arts programs with nonparticipants, studies report a higher overall physical health rating for the former. This group also uses less medication, requires fewer doctor visits and experiences fewer falls and other health problems, ultimately reducing community health care costs.

Baker, B. (2008). Studies suggest there's an art to getting older. The Washington Post, Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Accessed 5/11/12, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/10/AR2008031001617.html

Increased Socialization

Music and arts experiences offer isolated older adults opportunities to socialize, reducing feelings of "social disconnectedness . . . associated with worse physical health.”

Cornwell, EY, and Waite, LJ. 2009. Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation and health among older adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50(March): 31–48

Resources
 

National Center for Creative Aging

Staying Engaged: Health Patters of Older Americans who Participate in the Arts, 2017 (from the National Endowment for the Arts website)

How Creativity Work in the Brain, 2015 (from the National Endowment for the Arts website)

The Arts and Aging: Building the Science, 2013 (from the National Endowment for the Arts website)

The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults, 2006.

Enriching Lives Through the Arts

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