Older adults

Older adults

Participatory arts activities (music, singing, dance) are associated with improvements in:

  • Mental health and wellbeing

  • Physical health

  • Engagement with others

  • Attitudes towards ageing among society

Likelihood of developing dementia later in life is lower for those engaged in leisure activities, with cognitive activities being most important e.g.: reading, board games, playing a musical instrument, dance.

Use of fiction helps health care professionals develop empathy and understanding of the lived experiences of people with dementia.

Artistic activities can increase tolerance amongst workers, including via collaborative creative workshops with people living with dementia in care homes


  • when it comes to managing dementia, there are mixed results, with some interventions reducing negative behaviours, improving cognition, but many with no improvement.

  • Some staff in the collaborative creative workshops felt threatened by the depth of the experiences, which can lead to discomfort with changing perception of residents less so as patients.


Mental Health Foundation (2011) An evidence review of the impact of participatory arts on older people, London: Mental Health Foundation.

S. Tsegaye et al (2016) Everything We Know About Whether and How the Arts Improve Lives, Createquity.

G. Crossick & P. Kaszynska (2016) Understanding the value of arts & culture: The AHRC cultural value project, London: Arts & Humanities Research Council.

M. Livesey et al (2012) “Benefits of choral singing for social and mental wellbeing: qualitative findings from a cross-national survey of choir members,” Journal of Public Mental Health 11(1): 10-26.

J. Kattenstroth et al. “Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions,” Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience 5: 1-16.

J.Verghese et al. (2003) ”Leisure activities and the risk of dementia,” New England Journal of Medicine 348: 25: 2508-2516.