Rendezvous by/par Chartwell Winter 2018/2019 - Page 14

Active participation in the arts can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of older adults in many ways. Better physical health, less pain Seniors who participated in professionally-led arts programs at four community centres in Vancouver and North Vancouver over three years showed improved physical health, stronger social connections, reduced chronic pain, increased ability to cope with stress and greater motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle, according to a University of British Columbia School of Nursing study in the Journal on Active Aging. The Arts, Health and Seniors: Healthy Aging Through the Arts project (AHS), launched by Vancouver Coastal Health in partnership with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, community groups and artists, demonstrates the enriching physical and mental health benefits of arts activities for older adults. 11 RENDEZVOUS | WINTER 2018/2019 Seniors up to age 90 collaborated on a wide range of artistic, creative activities: writing, digital p h oto g ra p hy, p u p p et theatre, storytelling, dance, painting, drawing, mixed media arts and choral singing. Beyond the health bene- fits, participants reported gaining more confidence to learn and accomplish new things, and enjoyment f ro m cultivati n g a n d expressing their creative skills and artistic abilities. Better Better morale, morale, fewer fewer falls falls The AHS project was inspired in part by the ground-break- ing Creativity and Aging Study, led by geriatric psychiatrist Gene D. Cohen of George Washington U n ive r sit y. H is 2 0 0 6 study in The Gerontologist reported that older adults who participated in arts programs including paint- ing, writing, poetry, jewelry making and music had better physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer falls, better morale and less loneliness than those who didn’t. Engaging in arts programs has a positive health impact by i m p rovi n g s o c i a l networks, increasing self- confidence and reducing feelings of fear, anxiety and social isolation, according to the Arts Health Network (AHN). Creative arts therapies also have been shown to reduce anxiety and tension in cardiac and surgery patients, and to reduce pain and discomfort in people suffering from a wide range of illnesses, reports AHN. Just 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lowered cortisol levels and stress, regardless of the person’s artistic ability, according to a Drexel University study.