My mother who moved away from America for over 30 years returned to her homeland at the age of 80 years. After successfully raising her four children, she decided to set up her first gallery exhibit. She was full of life and radiating with a job as she showed her works to other artists, guests, and friends, and I was marveled to see the same. With oils and acrylics, she brought life to cottages, old barns, rolling hills, etc. She said paintings have made her see things in a different and clear perspective. In fact, my siblings and I find it tough to keep up with her.
This liveliness is consistent with the findings from many decades of initiating work in the research, practice of arts, and aging. The participation in arts has proved to enhance the cognitive function as well as memory. The general well-being and self-esteem seem to have improved reducing symptoms of dementia including agitation, apathy and aggression, and stress. The creativity of a person can be nurtured all through his or her life. In fact, the older the brain grows the life experiences can be stimulated to contribute in exceptional ways. The creative aging field acknowledges the importance of creativity and the life quality for the older people irrespective of their age, economic status and levels of physical, cognitive or emotional functioning.
These days, providing art services for the old age people is gaining traction, and it is continuing to increase. In the United States, there were 5.5 million people in the age group of 85 years and older in 2010, and this number is likely to rise to 19 million by the year 2050. If so, the number of older people will surpass that of school going children. The advancements in the healthcare are likely to prolong life making people healthier and live longer than before.
The NCCA (National Center for Creative Aging) aims to communicate the vital relationship between the healthy aging and creative expression. They develop programs that create this understanding. These programs teach topics related to the aging process, the creativity of the older people and the steps to identify the community partners providing health, arts and aging related services. In fact, everyone’s desire is to grow old with dignity and live a purposeful and independent life. The engagement in art plays an important role in the same by strengthening the connections between the old people and others such as caregivers, friends, family, etc.
The arts have played a vital role in creating a sense of community in these people and brought about respect to their contribution. For many people, they have involved in arts that have helped them define the process of successful aging. The same way, my mother, credits her creative paintings for bringing her quite close to her children and grandchildren. Most importantly, she is a great inspiration to all of us. Her creativity has helped her stay healthy and active. For anyone, it is not too late to bring about a social change by transforming the life experiences into artworks.
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