Creativity is an essential component of human development regardless of age. For older people in particular, regular creative experiences can result in meeting new friends, reducing isolation, contributing to community, adapting to changes and finding hidden talents never before realised. Scientists, clinical practitioners, creative therapists, drama practitioners, health services and those involved in the arts are fully recognising significant benefits for older persons. Scientific research suggests that following or developing creative pursuits in their varied forms can result in a contribution to the creation of new neural pathways in our brains.
Globally, people of all ages now have many opportunities to engage in creative pursuits, including new hobbies and interests; sometimes even career opportunities too, even for mature age persons. Opportunities arise in retirement (for most people) to become actively creative when children are no longer living at home or employment has ceased. People may say “I’m not an artist or sculptor”, but there is a range of ways to be creative. Potentially any of the following can also be pursued as a creative outlet: volunteering, making furniture, pursuing hobbies or crafts, learning a new language, restoring an old bike or car, joining a “men's shed”, taking up Tai chi or yoga or joining a singing ensemble or community drama group.
For more environmental pursuits and activities to help fight climate change, consider volunteering with your local recycling, animal welfare, land care or coast care groups. Creative ageing can reduce social isolation and provide new levels of interconnectedness or intergenerational activity with younger people. Ultimately all activities provide a clear purpose for getting out of bed in the morning.
In 2003, my wife Jacqui and I joined a local singing/drama/social club. Later, without formal training or accreditation, I formed two seniors’ drama/performance groups consisting of people with minimal or no previous theatrical experience…and we had a ball!
Sample extract from the CREATIVITY SELECTION
“Experimentation, openness to new ideas and flexibility in dealing with changes are the essence of creativity, and they are also crucial ingredients for healthy cognitive ageing, researchers say.
Thankfully, you don't have to be a genius or maestro yourself to stay healthy and vital. Even just loving to read, attending art performances, and keeping stimulating social ties can yield enormous benefits throughout life, according to a study on creativity and ageing, which was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Seniors between the ages of 63 and 103 who participated in a variety of weekly art programs were found to be in better health, had fewer doctor visits, and used less medication in comparison to a control group that attended no such activities. They also showed better results in mental health tests, and were overall more involved in their communities.”
- Timi Gustafson R.D. Registered Dietitian, Health Counsellor: Why creative people age better, Huffington Post, 26 July 2014.