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New NEA Report Explores Relationship between Arts and Health in Older Adults

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Sep 08, 2017

A new report from the NEA, “Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Engage in the Arts,” uses data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study to examine the relationship between arts engagement and health in older adults.

“Previous studies have found a better health profile for older adults who participate in the arts, compared with those who do not, but much of that research is limited to the study of creating art, or taking part in arts classes or lessons,” said NEA research & analysis director Sunil Iyengar. “This report, by contrast, looks at older adults who either create art or attend arts events, do both, or do neither, and health differences across these groups. The findings, while purely descriptive, will help future researchers to probe the arts-health relationship further.”

Key findings of the report, according to the NEA include:

  • 84 percent of these adults reported either creating art or attending arts events.
  • Among this group, 64 percent created art of their own, 68.7 percent attended arts events, and 48.6 percent both created and attended.
  • Older adults who both created art and attended arts events reported higher cognitive functioning and lower rates of both hypertension and limitations to their physical functioning than did adults who neither created nor attended art.
  • Among those who both created and attended, cognitive functioning scores were seven-fold higher than for adults who did neither type of arts activity.

Learn more and download the report here

In line with the findings of the NEA report, the Guild, in partnership with Lifetime Arts, Inc. has launched the Catalyzing Creative Aging program, a multi-phase initiative designed to support the establishment of new creative aging programs at nonprofit arts education organizations nationwide.

You can learn more about the program and apply here

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.