Creativity & Well-being in Later Life 2017
The Secret Garden :A Symposium on Creativity & Wellbeing in Later Life
Our second annual symposium on arts and health 2017 explores the theme of whether active participation in the arts – be that singing, dance, drama, writing or one of the visual arts – can make a real & significant difference to wellbeing in final decades of life.
Two years ago Inside Out launched a programme – Creative Lives – for those over 60 experiencing the many emotional challenges of later life, including dementia. This is a weekly programme of creative workshops exploring mixed art forms led by practising local artists. We have yet to evaluate it fully but the indication from participants is that it is experienced as beneficial: it is a mental and social stimulus; it encourages creative expression; it brings something enriching, purposeful and enjoyable to life; and it involves people in a creative community group of which they feel a valued part.
There is a tendency to discount ourselves in later life – ‘I’m too old’; to disregard our abilities – ‘I was always hopeless at art’, and the possibility of a creative life closes down. What we have been interested in with our own project Creative Lives is to challenge these attitudes and provide an opportunity for artists & non artists to reconnect with their creativity and find an expression for it. We may all take inspiration from those gods of impressionism: Monet who painted the enormous lily pond canvases late in his life when his eyesight was failing; and Matisse who began an impressive new development in his artistic life with his cut outs when he was old and ill.
The active life is known to be the best antidote to the adversities of ageing; but active in what way? In a recent large scale survey conducted by Age UK creative and cultural participation scored highly as one of the many factors that contribute to sustained wellbeing.
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