There have been a number of exciting studies about the benefits of Creative Aging, most notably Dr. Gene D. Cohen's 2006 landmark publication, "The Creativity and Aging Study". In this study, seniors who were involved in weekly participatory art programs reported the following outcomes:
A neuron is a nerve cell that is the basic building block of the nervous system. Neurons are specialized to transmit information throughout the body in both chemical and electrical forms.
Studies have shown that as we age, the human brain loses neurons, and this has long been associated with a decrease in brain function. However, though it loses neurons, the brain does not lose its capacity for forming and deepening connections between the neurons that remain. Recent studies suggest that the number of neurons in our brains is much less important than the number and strength of the connections between neurons. However, neuroscientists believe that in order for the brain to maintain connections between its neurons, and especially to forge new connections, it needs to be challenged.
In other words, it is not old age per se that reduces the brain’s functioning. It is stagnation that threatens the brain, like the stagnation that occurs when elders are cut off from meaningful opportunities for stimulation and growth.
This is why quality arts programming is so essential in the later years of life. Through creative activites, elders learn new skills, discover new aspects of their selves, and find new ways to express and perceive the world.
By Dr. Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D.
By the Department of Health and Human Services
By the Mental Health Foundation
By Veronica Franklin Gould & Dr. Trish Vella-Burrows