New National Endowment for the Arts Report: Health Benefits of Arts Participation in Older Adults

A new National Endowment for the Arts Report indicates that arts participation results in health benefits for older adults.

According to a new report published by the National Endowment for the Arts, older adults who create art and attend arts events have better health outcomes than adults who do neither. Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Engage in the Arts presents the first detailed look at arts participation habits, attitudes toward the arts, and related health characteristics of adults aged 55 and older. Staying Engaged is based on results from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), conducted by the University of Michigan with primary support from the National Institute on Aging within the National Institutes of Health.

The HRS is a nationally representative, 20+ years longitudinal study that has tracked the health profiles of older adults through surveys and other measurement tools. In 2014, HRS investigators added survey questions about older adults’ involvement in arts and cultural activities over the past year. The new questions allow study of the relationship between engaging in the arts—as creators or observers—and selected health outcomes.
Key Sections and Selected Findings of Staying Engaged
Arts participation: The report examined creating art, attending arts events, doing both, and doing neither, among adults over 55 years of age.
  • 84% of these adults reported either creating art or attending arts events.
  • Among this group, 64% created art of their own, 68.7% attended arts events and 48.6% both created and attended.
Attitudes about the arts were measured through eight questions including:
  • The arts are important (63.8%).
  • The arts help me to be active and engaged (54.9%).
Health outcomes
  • Older adults who both created art and attended arts events reported higher cognitive functioning and lower rates of both hypertension and limitations to their physical functioning than did adults who neither created nor attended art.
  • Among those who both created and attended, cognitive functioning scores were seven-fold higher than for adults who did neither type of arts activity.
Learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts report. Then, post your comments about the health benefits of arts participation for older adults.
About Andrea Hammer 232 Articles
Andrea Karen Hammer is the founder, director and owner of Artsphoria Media Group including Artsphoria International Magazine, Artsphoria: Arts, Business & Technology Center (https://www.artsphoria.biz) and Artsphoria: Food for the Soul (https://artsphoria.live). She is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer who has published articles in international publications.