Designing evidence-based creative arts programs to maintain healthy minds in older adults
Keeping active in later life is important for maintaining social, cognitive and emotional wellbeing, and delaying or preventing the onset of dementia. While physical activity can promote wellbeing in older adulthood, not everyone can participate in sports or exercise. Creative arts activities offer a promising, complementary approach to engage our thinking, emotions, creativity and imagination. While engagement in creative activities is linked to beneficial effects on wellbeing, research into the specific effects of creative arts engagement on brain and cognitive health is lacking. This project uses a cluster randomised control trial design to compare the effects of artmaking and songwriting courses on brain, cognitive and emotional processes in healthy older adults. We aim to identify the important ‘ingredients’ of creative activity programs that drive benefits in wellbeing. Findings from this project will inform the development of evidence-based creative arts programs with protective effects on cognitive functioning, emotional wellbeing and quality of life for adults at all stages of ageing.
Helen English is currently an ARC Early Career Fellow at the University of Newcastle