The Arts Improve Well Being Among Seniors

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

The arts have long been an important tool in helping older adults stay connected with their community and by nurturing creativity, foster a continuing sense of purpose.   A recent study of more than 1,000 adults over the age of 50 in Singapore found that participation in the arts is linked with a much greater quality of life, according to a September 6 report in The Straits Times.

The Arts for Aging Well Study, funded by the National Arts Council, is the first of its kind to collect empirical evidence of the benefits of taking part in arts-related activities including theater, film and heritage-related events.

Older adults who attended arts events perceived their health as better and enjoyed better cognitive function and social support compared with those who did not attend arts events.   But those who participated in the arts directly were significantly more likely to report having a higher sense of fulfillment, purpose and good mental health.

We know that music and dance can unearth long-forgotten memories, especially for seniors with dementia, but a wide range of artistic activities can bring a sense of joy and well being to the lives of older adults.  And learning a new skill can help stave off cognitive decline.

A 2006 Creativity and Aging Study funded by the National Endowment for the Arts looked more closely at how community based cultural programs enhance the health and wellness of adults over the age of 65.  Study participants experienced better overall health, a decrease in doctor visits, less medication use and a decline in the number of reported falls.  Seniors who were involved in regular arts activities from week to week over a two-year period were also less likely to report loneliness or depression compared with the control group.

To learn more about how the arts can be beneficial to healthy aging, follow this link to a recent report in the New York Times.