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Arts and Aging Day Canada: Expressing with creativity to improve quality of life

Nov 4, 2021 | Arts, Events

Studies have shown that the arts can enhance quality of life for older adults. Participating in the arts can bring people together, provide an opportunity for personal growth, and spark fond memories. Unfortunately, there is a limited focus on the arts for older adults in many modern cultures.

Kate Dupuis, Schlegel Innovation Leader in Arts and Aging and professor at Sheridan College, has been a Canadian champion in this area, bringing arts and awareness of its benefits to older adults across the nation.

Dupuis’ research explores how participation in the creative and performing arts can serve to support the health and well-being of older adults. In particular, she is passionate about discovering the personal characteristics of individuals who are drawn to participate in the arts, and identifying and addressing potential barriers (e.g., physical, psychological) to participation. This passion led to Kate establishing Arts and Aging Day Canada (AAADC).

Inspired by the UK’s dedication to arts for older adults, AAADC is devoted to highlighting arts-based activities for older adults across the senior living sector.

“It’s important to highlight all of the ways we can maximize  health and well-being,” explained Dupuis. “Arts presents an incredible opportunity for this. It encourages people to be expressive and creative.”

The first AAADC took place in September 2020 at a time when connecting virtually had recently extended from business meetings to meaningful interactions across all types of communities. “Since it’s a virtual event, we were able to reach older adults, care partners, and long-term care homes across the country,” said Dupuis. “It allows us to be a pan-Canadian initiative instead of just local.”

A year later, the programming for the second AAADC held on September 24, 2021 grew significantly. From a concert pianist performance to a hands-on creative art class, there was something for everyone throughout the day, thanks to the several organizations who recognized the immense value of the event and offered free programming. Through the various activities, AAADC served as a chance to promote the positive effects of arts-based activities and to learn more about what different organizations are doing.

Beyond the activities, this event provided an opportunity to create nationwide connections in the field of arts, health and aging. As a result of the event, Dupuis has been invited to talk to others interested in implementing and evaluating arts-based activities.

For next year’s AAADC, date to-be-determined, Dupuis wants to engage more long-term care home residents who are artists and introduce international programming in partnership with the UK’s Arts in Care Homes.

“The UK is a world leader in creative aging – that’s what I aspire for here. My goal is to create a network of like-minded individuals all over Canada.”

A special thank you to the organizations who donated their time and services for AAADC 2021: Voices in Motion, Sharing Dance Older Adults program developed by Baycrest and Canada’s National Ballet School, Schlegel Villages, The Imagination Network, Concerts in Care Ontario, and MOonhORsE Dance Theatre.

Photos by: Kari Stone, Senior Manager of Programs, Kerby Centre.

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