Role of Creative Ageing on Quality of Life for the Elderly

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw

The ageing population is rapidly increasing and has some noteworthy results for the demography, health and well being of our society. Art programs where there are direct participation and involvement can contribute towards promoting the health and well being of the elderly. These creative programs and activities facilitate an opportunity to create community-based, non-clinical meaningful engagement and interactions for the elderly.

Creative ageing is an inherently interdisciplinary field of enquiry, which is on the intersection of arts and health, social gerontology and places emphasis on the role of creative engagement in enhancing personal growth, creativity and building social connections in later life.

Who are the elderly/older adults? 
The UN agreed cut off is 60+ years to refer to the older or elderly persons. Within the elderly population, further classification like the oldest old (normally those 80+) and centenarian (100+) and even super-centenarian (110+) are also made. We define this population as adults aged 55-100, and we view them as whole Intelligent, Creative and Social people. The members of these groups have different tastes and cultural reference points, but they all benefit from tapping into their creative capacity and they have fun doing it. 

What are the Common Elderly Issues?
Getting older can seem daunting – greying hair, wrinkles, forgetting where you parked the car. All jokes aside, ageing can bring about unique health issues. It is important to understand the challenges faced by people as they age, and recognize that there are preventive measures that can place yourself (or a loved one) on a path to healthy aging. Common conditions in older age include hearing loss, cataracts, refractive errors, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, depression, dementia

Key Facts: According to the UN, “The pace of population ageing around the world is also increasing dramatically.” France had almost 150 years to adapt to a change from 10% to 20% in the proportion of the population that was older than 60 years. However, places such as Brazil, China, and India will have slightly more than 20 years to make the same adaptation. With seniors accounting for 12 percent of the world’s population; which will be increasing to 22 % by 2050.

Factors Influencing Healthy Ageing? 
Although some of the variations in older people’s health are genetic, much is due to people’s physical and social environments – including their homes, neighbourhoods, and communities. Their personal characteristics – such as their mindset, lifestyle, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The environments that people live in as children or even as developing foetuses combined with their personal characteristics have long-term effects on how they age. Maintaining healthy behaviours throughout life, particularly eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and refraining from tobacco use all contribute to reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases and improving physical and mental capacity.

What is Creative Ageing? 
According to the non-profit organization Lifetime Arts, “Creative ageing is the practice of engaging older adults (55+) in participatory, professionally run arts programs with a focus on social engagement and skills mastery.” Creative ageing also has much to do with health. Wellness can be achieved in many ways, including using creativity to work the mind and body.

Creative ageing is designed to provide opportunities for meaningful creative expression through visual, literary, and performing arts workshops. Creative ageing is also about possibilities, adds Pat Spadafore of the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research; freeing ourselves of limiting beliefs about ageing and embracing the reality that individuals continue to grow, learn, and contribute to their communities throughout the life journey. 

Studies show that over 65, people involved in weekly art programs have fewer doctor visits and take less medication than those without creative outlets. 

Why do those involved in creative activities or art programs take less medication and have fewer doctors is it? 

The answer is because of the basic nature of creativity which is problem-solving and reinforcement, the elderly involved in creative activities are less prone to illness. Humans are social animals and social connections are important. Art and Creativity force the elderly to interact with the outside world.

“The key Mantra in Art of Creative Aging is Respect, Empathize, Encourage, Inspire”

Impact of Creative Ageing Creative-

Aging enriches the lives of older adults through arts education.

“The Creativity and Ageing Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults,” Gene D Cohen, MD, PhD, demonstrated that participation in activities that foster creative engagement and skills mastery in a social environment has positive psychological, physical and emotional health benefits for older adults. One of the values of Creative Ageing is to promote meaningful social interaction. This is very important for elders. It serves as passive entertainment. When elderly people get engaged in such activities, they also get role models for young people. It is a fact that we all age. The good news is that ageing creatively through the arts holds the promise of enjoying and embracing the process.

Wellness through Creative Ageing-

Wellness can be achieved in many ways, by using CREATIVITY to work the mind and body.

Studies show that “There is a growing body of evidence indicating that creative programs for older adults improve the health and wellness of older adults, as well as encourage social connectivity,” said Marc Agronin, PhD, adult and geriatric psychiatrist for the Miami Jewish Health Systems (MJHS).

Research shows that mental activity stimulated by art activities can be especially beneficial to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, art has been shown to foster connections between those with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers, whether family or professional.

Examples of Creative Ageing Program- 

Art programs are essential to help older adults remain dynamic members of society and an important part of their communities. Creativity is applied to everything such as Poetry, singing playing instruments, dancing, painting, photography, writing a book to learning a new digital skill, enactment, theatre, and pottery.

Elderly people are an inspiration to the youth by being their role models. It is the elderly people who encourage meaning and a strong sense of purpose to the younger people. 

At Creative Ageing Cincinnati, for example, classes include ballet and creative movement, chair yoga, recreational group drumming, dulcimer, and line dancing as well as art programs focusing upon history and culture and the visual arts. Beautiful Minds project cosponsored by DSM Nutritional Products, for example, creative agers are invited to take part in a national photo essay exhibit displaying individuals who are doing “beautiful things” with their minds without letting age be a barrier. It is the ‘making,’ that keeps the heart and mind engaged.

CONCLUSION 

Creativity has therapeutic properties which provide meaning and purpose to the lives of the elderly in supportive and non-threatening ways. It improves cognitive functions. 

Henceforth, as per the finding’s creativity does facilitates successful ageing. The basic understanding and approach of creativity which is problem solving, motivation and perception helps elderly to translate these skills into their everyday life and manage well.  

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