ARTS & AGING is an emerging field that sometimes is also called Artful Aging and/or Creative Aging. It is a movement that seeks to engage older adults in the practice of the creative arts in any form and in any capacity.
The participation of professional artists is highly recommended, and it is even better if these professional artists are trained in working with seniors and are knowledgeable about their particular needs and circumstances.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ARTS FOR THE AGING?
Recent studies have shown significant benefits resulting from creative arts activities. These include improvement of health, mental wellbeing, social functioning and overall quality of life. Specifically, creative aging programs have shown that the Arts ignite people’s self-esteem, in that they begin to be seen and heard and feel more valued.
The arts tend to create environments of community, instead of environments that are focused largely on medical problems. Creative aging programs tend to be inherently intergenerational, and this is also highly beneficial to all involved.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FIELD OF CREATIVE AGING
In 1981, The National Endowment for the Arts convened a group of experts to articulate the importance of arts and humanities for seniors. The group delivered a resolution to the White House Conference on Aging.
In 2001, The National Center for Creative Aging received funding to create a database listing programs for older adults to network, train, and advocate for the field of Creative Aging.
In 2006, Dr. Gene D. Cohen published “The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults.”
In 2011, The National Endowment for the Arts published the white paper, “The Arts and Human Development”.
The National Center for Creative Aging continues to hold important national conferences. There are many more contributions and research endeavors that are helping to develop this field than can be listed in this brief history.
WHAT IS GOING ON NOW IN THE FIELD OF CREATIVE AGING?
The field of Creative Aging is currently exploding, as the research information gets out into the Aging and Gerontology fields worldwide. There is intense interest in incorporating the Arts into prevention and wellness programs, as well as rehabilitation programs across the spectrum.
Many community arts associations such as visual art centers, theaters, music groups, folk arts groups, libraries, etc…are beginning to ask themselves how they can offer more high quality programming for aging citizens. It is an exciting time and we hope that you become actively involved in this movement!