Multiple studies show that those over age 55 who attended or participated in cultural and artistic events reported better mental and physical health than those who did not.
In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health, a compilation of numerous studies on the connection of creativity and art to aging and health.
In that article, researchers analyzed more than 100 studies about the impact of art on health and one’s ability to heal oneself. The studies included everything from music and writing to dance and the visual arts.
As an example, here are the findings from five visual arts studies mentioned in that review (visual arts includes things like painting, drawing, photography, pottery, and textiles). Each study examined more than 30 patients who were battling chronic illness and cancer.
Here’s how the researchers described the impact that visual art activities had on the patients…
• Art filled occupational voids, distracted thoughts of illness
• Improved well-being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones
• Improved medical outcomes, trends toward reduced depression
• Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions
• Reductions in distress and negative emotions
• Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks
In that vein (and maybe give you ideas to get started), consider visiting The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan to see an exhibit they are calling “The Long Run” which focuses on the careers of older artists, including 130 works of art each made by an artist who was at least 45, and frequently much older. Artists include Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Melvin Edwards, Gego, Philip Guston, Joan Jonas, Helen Levitt and many others. It will be on display through Nov. 4, 2018. For more information, go to moma.org.