Ageing well: Investigating the health and well-being benefits of participatory arts interventions for older adults.
Across the world people are living longer. The number of older adults is due to rise from 18% (2016) to 26% of the UK population by 2066 (ONS, 2018). Although people are living longer, they are not always living well. Getting older has been associated with social isolation, where individuals lack meaningful connections with other people (e.g., family, friends). Social isolation can negatively impact older adults’ health and wellbeing (Cacioppo & Cacioppo, 2018), and place a considerable burden on health and social care systems (Silcock & Sinclair, 2012). Therefore, supporting older adults’ social connection, health and wellbeing is paramount.
Research has found that the identification, engagement and belonging that group memberships provide can contribute to health and wellbeing (Jetten et al., 2014, 2017). Building social connection via group membership can help reduce feelings of isolation, improve mental health and promote a sense of community, engagement and support among older adults (Gleibs et al., 2011; Haslam et al., 2014). Group-based arts interventions may create the social connection needed to promote similar positive outcomes by enabling individuals to meet others and share experiences by engaging with artistic practice. These interventions can improve older adults’ health and wellbeing (e.g. Dunphy et al. 2019), however it is less clear how and why these improvements occur.
This PhD, supervised by Dr Janelle Jones, aims to clarify the relationships between arts participation, social connection, engagement, health and wellbeing. It is partnered with Entelechy Arts, a participatory arts company. who have developed Meet Me at The Albany (MMA), an arts program for older adults. We will review the literature on group arts interventions, health and wellbeing and investigate the links between arts activities, health and welling in existing data sets as well as conducting a longitudinal evaluation of the MMA’s impact on the wellbeing of its members.
2 – Life Course, Psychology, & Health