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CREATIVE AGEING NOTEBOOK | Issue 2
Arts Mid North Coast brings you the latest key research and articles from around the world highlighting the important connection between Arts and Health and its benefits on ageing. 

Australian Ballet brings dance to older Australians 

Dr Hilarie Lindsay OAM, 97, participating in workshops with the Australian Ballet (Sophia Bender / The Australian Ballet)

The Australian Ballet, in partnership with aged care provider Nurse Watch, has been delivering free ballet classes for older Australians in their early 60s to late 90s. The classes are designed to open up the benefits of dance to older people in the community. 

The classes came about after Nurse Watch founder Kate Spurway learnt of the Queensland Ballet's research into the benefits of ballet for older students. The research found ballet improved their fitness and helped prevent falls in the home. During classes, participants learn the importance of posture and muscle strength in older age, as well as observing their breathing and identifying tension in their body.

Community programs that encourage social and physical activity among older people are paramount, according to Emmanuel Stamatas, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health. His co-authored report, published in 2016, found that people over the age of 40 who participate in dancing almost halve their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.  

READ MORE        
See also an earlier article 

A  Music Memory Box

The Music Memory Box was invented by 28-year-old designer Chloe Meineck, inspired by her great-grandmother's experience with dementia. The senior would always fail to recognise Chloe when she visited her nursing home, however, upon hearing certain songs, she would suddenly recall heartfelt stories from her past.  

The device uses photographs, objects, and music to help people with dementia to remember their past. The box is programmed to play certain songs that are associated with various possessions and photos.  

READ MORE

The Music Memory Box uses photographs, objects and music to help people with dementia remember their past.

Arts Council of Wales seeks ‘systemic change’ to embed the Arts in Healthcare

A new initiative of the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh NHS Confederation explores how arts interventions can play a key role in Welsh healthcare provision. The project is managed by Y Lab, a partnership between Nesta and Cardiff University exploring innovation in public services.

Writing on the Nesta blog, Head of Y Lab Rob Ashelford said: “We are keen to understand how the arts can play a more prominent role in the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales and, importantly, where new ideas are needed to make this happen.”

ACW Portfolio Manager Lisa Matthews-Jones explained: “What this project and partnership is hoping to do is to look at how we can effect systemic change – what are the changes we need to make that allow the arts to play a sustainable role in our wellbeing in Wales?”

READ MORE.   Image: Dance for Parkinson’s, National Dance Company Wales [Photo: Rachel Cherry]

Even Minimal Creative Activity Boosts Wellbeing

Research commissioned by the BBC Arts found that encountering new creative activities – regardless of the level of skill involved – was found to have a particularly positive impact on emotions and wellbeing. 

The 'Great British Creativity Test', produced in partnership with University College London (UCL), surveyed 50,000 people. Participants were asked about which creative activities they took part in (e.g. performing arts and music, visual arts, literature, digital arts, photography) and whether these activities helped manage their emotions.

Researchers identified three key ways that creativity is used:

  • as a ‘distraction tool’ to avoid stress
  • as a ‘contemplation tool’, creating the mental space to reassess problems and make plans
  • for ‘self-development’, building self-esteem and confidence.
While the study concludes that live face-to-face activities such as singing in a choir or taking part in a group painting class were the most effective, even isolated online creative activity led to a positive impact.    

READ MORE        Image: Visual Hunt

Creative Ageing Resources & Studies

This website http://www.artshealthresources.org.uk/repository-search is an online, searchable database, housing nearly three hundred documents charting the development of the Arts and Health movement in the UK from 1996 onwards.

The site is fully searchable using various filter fields by Keyword, Year, Context, Focus, Artform and Subject. There is also Australian content at http://www.artshealthresources.org.uk/australia-timeline

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