Participatory Arts for Older Adults: Benefits of Creative Aging| MEKTU | NB-IRDT | UNB

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Participatory Arts for Older Adults: Benefits of Creative Aging

Lead organization: Art4Life Inc / University of New Brunswick Saint John (UNBSJ)

Principle investigator(s): Anita Punamiya, CEO & Founder Art4Life Inc.

Co-investigators: Dr. Greg Fleet, UNBSJ and Dr. Barry Watson, UNBSJ


About the project:

The issue

Many seniors face three major challenges: social isolation, loneliness and boredom, which can lead to physical, emotional, and/or cognitive issues or illnesses.

The importance

As the number of older adults grows, new ways to improve the quality of life for seniors are being explored. One way of doing this is through a model known as “Creative Aging,” in which seniors are offered opportunities to participate in a range of creative activities on a regular basis. This type of program has been recognized by seniors and researchers in many jurisdictions as a preference for aging-at-home and aging-in-community. It also provides social, cultural and economic value to seniors and their communities.

Over the last ten years, research in the field of Arts and Aging has linked the arts with improved health. There is now clear evidence in other jurisdictions that participatory arts not only enrich the quality of life of older adults but are also helpful in the prevention of many health-related problems.

What makes this project different

Art4Life offers a range of creative activities run by trained art professionals to help seniors maintain their cognitive, emotional and physical well-being. The art programs have been selected to provide seniors with a wide range of meaningful learning experiences and provide a space for meaningful social interaction between participants. The range of art programs offered via Art4Life provides seniors a place for exploration, learning and social bonding that can profoundly impact both individual lives and the community they live in.

Anticipated impacts

We anticipate that all levels of our community will value the arts as a key contributor to health and will come to see the positive impact of regular participation in arts-based activities on the health and well-being of seniors.

Individual-level impacts:

  • Improved physical health with reduced usage of the health system (less visits to physicians/ER, less medication use)
  • More positive responses to mental health measures
  • More involvement in overall activities

Community-level impacts:

  • Promotion of healthy lifestyle, wellness, independence and quality of life
  • Creation of strong and healthy communities that engage seniors as full and active participants
  • Utilization of assets (people/facilities) already in the community to enable seniors to lead healthy lives and reduce to some extent the usage of the healthcare system

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