rts and creativity has an important role to play in health and wellbeing in later life and can help improve physical, psychological, and social health and wellbeing in older adults, a new report published by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) has found. The report, ‘Arts and Creativity in Later Life: Implications for Public Health and Older People’ reviewed more than 70 international studies investigating the potential health and wellbeing benefits of dancing, music and singing, visual and creative arts, and drama and theatre.
The research carried out by the Institute of Public Health found:Dance is particularly beneficial for improving balance, mobility, strength, flexibility, physical activity, as well as improving cognitive function.Music and singing can provide improvements in cognitive function and improved emotions.Music and singing and visual arts can help improve quality of life, social connections, and a sense of wellbeing.The findings have significant implications for both public health and the arts and creativity sector, according to the authors of the comprehensive review, especially with low participation in arts and creativity by older people.
There is clear evidence that participating in arts and creative activities can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of older adults. This suggests that the benefits of taking part in arts and creativity should be more widely promoted in later life.
IPH Evaluations and Interventions Officer, Laura McQuade, co-author of the report said: “Given the health and wellbeing benefits, there is an opportunity to encourage more adults in Ireland and Northern Ireland to take part in arts and creativity as they grow older.”
The review also identified a knowledge gap in how arts and creativity interventions are evaluated for their return on investment in health and social terms. To bridge that gap, IPH commissioned researchers Professor Ciaran O’Neill and Dr Grainne Crealey from Clinical Costing Solutions to review how the economic benefits of arts and creativity interventions are evaluated. This review found that arts and creativity interventions could be cost-effective and offer value for money but recommended improvements to how such programmes are evaluated into the future.
Arts and creativity interventions have the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of older adults at relatively low cost and such interventions can be accessible and scalable without the need for significant infrastructural investment. The methods used to assess their relative value need to evolve if such interventions are to compete with other activities intended to improve health and wellbeing,” Dr Crealey and Professor O’Neill said.