What is creative aging? It is a term that has now grown into a meaningful movement for millions of baby boomers. Designed to provide older adults opportunities for self-expression, creative aging art workshops aim to change the conversation on what it means to age in America, and encourages older adults to live a healthier lifestyle.
Creative Aging: Health and Wellness
Using one’s creativity stimulates the body and mind. According to reports, those “over 65 involved in weekly art programs have fewer doctor visits” than those who do not participate in a creative program.
Marc Agronin, Ph.D., adult and geriatric psychiatrist for the Miami Jewish Health Systems, confirmed: “There is a growing body of evidence indicating that creative programs for older adults improve the health and wellness of older adults, as well as encourage social connectivity.”
Creative Aging: Student Artists in Residence
Swan is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She is enrolled in the school’s Student Artists in Residence (SAIR), a program designed to give student artists time to become part of a community and engage in art-making.
“I live at a senior facility, and it is just as cool as it sounds!” Swan stated, noting that room and board are offered through the SAIR program so students can plan and facilitate workshops right on site.
One of Swan’s bigger projects called Project WE can be seen throughout the Laurel Oaks Senior Community building. Visitors will find on the building’s main level a desk and a typewriter, and residents’ typed notes hanging from the wall about what they are thankful for, or what they wish for the upcoming year.
“I like to see the residents taking charge of their own activities,” stated Swan.
Creative Aging: Anne Basting
Swan credits her interest in the topic of creative aging to Anne Basting, Professor of Theatre at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and founder and President of TimeSlips. Basting specializes in community-engaged practice, using the skills of the artist for positive social change.
“She really has been at the forefront of creative aging,” Swan explained. “One of Basting’s programs involves those with dementia telling stories using imagination, not using memory. It’s amazing to be part of that creative journey with them.”
To see more examples of Angela’s creative aging studies, connect with Laurel Oaks Senior Community on Facebook.