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Among the many health benefits and outcomes of art therapies for seniors are slowing down of aging on the brain, better memory recall, greater cognitive function, happier in their lives and less depression or loneliness, and higher self-esteem.

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Dance

Music/Singing

Theater

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Dance

Dance S
Effect of Square Dance Exercise on Older Women with Mild Mental Disorders

In 2021, researchers in China conducted a trial to explore the effect of Chinese square dance exercise on mild mental disorders in older women. The results showed that square dance exercise positively affected the participants’ depressive symptoms and quality-of-life-related mental health. This study demonstrates that square dance exercise is a safe and effective approach for older women with mild cognitive impairment that benefits their long-term health.

Psychophysiological Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Physical Exercise on Older Adults with Mild Dementia

A 2020 study examined the psychophysiological effects of dance movement therapy (DMT) and physical exercise for older adults with dementia. The DMT group showed significant decreases in depression, loneliness and negative mood, and improved daily functioning.

Comparative Cognitive Effects of Choreographed Exercise and Multimodal Physical Therapy in Older Adults with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Researchers in 2020 conducted a trial to compare the cognitive effects of choreographed exercise with a multimodal physical therapy program in elderly adults with amnestic MCI, a population with an increased risk of developing dementia. Their results showed that the choreography group exhibited significantly more benefits on verbal recognition memory than the physical therapy group.

Greek Traditional Dances: A Way to Support Intellectual, Psychological and Motor Functions in Senior Citizens at Risk of Neurodegeneration

Researchers in Greece conducted a study in 2019 that utilized a Greek traditional dance program for 30 healthy elderly and 30 participants with mild cognitive impairment. They concluded that dancing not only improves the cognitive and physical condition of the elderly, but also contributes to a better quality of life.

Dance Training is Superior to Repetitive Physical Exercise in Inducing Brain Plasticity

In a 2018 study, researchers determined that dancing compared to conventional fitness activity led to larger volume increases in more brain areas. The results show a challenging dance program is an effective measure to counteract detrimental effects of aging on the brain.

Music/Singing

Music/Singing S
Can Music Therapy Improve the Quality of Life of Institutionalized Elderly People?

In 2022, researchers in Spain finalized a study to verify the efficiency of a music therapy program with institutionalized elderly participants to avoid depressive symptoms and improve social interaction and creativity. Their results showed that music therapy has the potential to improve health and quality of life in the elderly and foster the amelioration of various chronic illnesses, such as depression.

Beneficial Effects of Choir Singing on Cognition and Well-Being of Older Adults: Evidence from a Cross-Sectional Study

In a 2021 study conducted by the Cognitive Research Unit at the University of Helsinki, Finland, researchers concluded that choir singers performed better than the control group on the verbal flexibility domain of executive function. In questionnaires, high activity choir singers showed better social integration and better general health than the control group and low activity choir singers. 

A Community Choir Intervention to Promote Well-Being Among Diverse Older Adults: Results from the Community of Voices Trial

Dr. Julene Johnson, University of California’s San Francisco School of Nursing conducted the largest randomized clinical trial in 2020 to test the importance of participating in a community choir on the health and well-being of nearly 400 culturally diverse adults age 60 and older from 12 senior centers. Within six months she found that participation in the choir reduced feelings of loneliness and increased interest in life. Cognitive improvements included better verbal memory, attention and executive function. Unanticipated benefits included improved self-esteem, finding a place in society and a sense of cultural identity and appreciation. The increased awareness and strength of voice encompassed both a physical effect (i.e., improved breath) and psychological effects (i.e., assertiveness and finding one’s voice).

Community-Dwelling People Living with Dementia and Their Family Caregivers Experience Enhanced Relationships and Feelings of Well-Being Following Therapeutic Group Singing

Faculty at the Fine Arts and Music Department at the University of Melbourne (Drs. Imogen Clark, Jeanette Tamplin and Felicity Baker) conducted a study in 2018 which found that therapeutic group singing (TGS) enhanced relationship between people living with dementia (PwD) and their family caregivers (FCG) and led to personal feelings of wellbeing for both PwD and FCG. Both described personal feelings of acceptance, improved social confidence, mood and purpose. Individualized singing intervention in the family home have also led to reduced physical signs of depression and improved mood, orientation and episodic memory in PwD and improved short-term memory, working memory and wellbeing in FCG compared with usual care.

The Effects of the Music-With-Movement Intervention on the Cognitive Functions of People with Moderate Dementia

Researchers in Hong Kong conducted a study in 2018 that aimed to examine the effects of a six-week music-with-movement (MM) intervention on the cognitive functions of people with moderate dementia. They found improvements in memory and depressive symptoms and concluded that MM intervention may be useful for enhancing the cognitive functions of people with dementia.

Theater

Theater S
Longitudinal Associations Between Short-Term, Repeated, and Sustained Arts Engagement and Well-Being Outcomes in Older Adults

A 2020 study done by researchers in the United Kingdom showed that repeated engagement with theater/concerts/opera and museums/galleries/exhibitions was associated with enhanced eudaimonic (i.e., happiness) well-being and sustained engagement with these activities were associated with greater well-being. Long-term frequent engagement with certain arts activities is associated with higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction, self-realization and control/autonomy in older adults. These findings suggest that policies that facilitate older adults’ access to arts venues and activities, and support their continued engagement with them, may help to promote happy, fulfilling lives of an increasing segment of the population.

Playback Theatre in Adult Day Centers: A Creative Group Intervention for Community Dwelling Older Adults

Researchers at the University of Haifa in Israel conducted a study in 2020 using theatre and drama-based interventions at adult day centers to improve the residents’ well-being and health. The results indicated the potential to bring about a personal transformation and expand it to enable a person’s social engagement in the community. The findings imply the potential benefits of using playback theatre groups to supplement the routine care provided in these centers.

Participation in Life-Review Playback Theater Enhances Mental Health of Community Dwelling Older Adults

In 2020, researchers conducted a study to examine an integrative intervention of older adults which included participation in playback theater in accordance with the life-review method. The results validated the intervention’s effectiveness for improving positive mental health indices: self-acceptance, personal growth, relationships with others, satisfaction with relationships, current well-being, positive affect, meaning in life, satisfaction with life, and self-esteem, as well as depressive symptoms.

Psychological Benefits of Attending the Theatre Associated with Positive Affect and Well-Being for Subscribers Over Age 60

In 2020, a study was conducted that examined how attending a live theatre performance could affect the well-being of patrons over 60. They found that sense of belonging, social engagement and flow were associated with positive affect after performances and that the cumulative positive affect experienced after plays predicted change in well-being.

Scripted-IMPROV: Interactive Improvisational Drama with Persons with Dementia

Researchers in 2018 founded in a study involving improvised drama performances specifically designed for persons with dementia (PWD) that positive forms of engagement increased while negative forms of engagement decreased with the drama intervention. These results suggest that quality of life was higher during the intervention and that this therapy could be a high-quality intervention for PWD.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts S
Benefits of a 3-Month Cycle of Weekly Virtual Museum Tours in Community Dwelling Older Adults

Researchers in 2022 conducted a study to examine whether a 3-month cycle of weekly virtual tours of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts may have improved feelings of social inclusion, well-being and quality of life, and reduced physical frailty in older adults living within the community of Montreal. They found that the intervention group showed significant improvements in their social isolation, well-being and quality of life and frailty scores when compared to the control group, the highest benefits being observed with frailty.

The Meaning, Challenges, and Characteristics of Art Therapy for Older Holocaust Survivors

In 2021, researchers in Israel examined the efficacy of art therapy with Holocaust survivors. Their findings suggested that art therapy can have a substantial impact on the survivors’ ability to share and process their stories, often for the first time, thus strengthening the claim that art therapy can assist survivors in finding meaning at the end of their life.

The Effectiveness of Art Therapy for Anxiety in Adult Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Researchers in 2019 examined the effectiveness of art therapy on anxiety in adult women. They concluded that it is effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, improving quality of life and aspects of emotion regulation.

Improving the Lives of Older Adults Through Community Building with Art Therapy

A qualitative research study done in 2019 investigated whether art therapy was effective in providing social benefits for older adults living in a nursing home setting, including increased self-esteem, quality of life, interaction with and support from other residents, the discovery of shared interests and stimulation in the form of a group activity. The study showed that overall participating in art interventions assisted participants in sharing information and socializing within the group sessions.

Art Therapy as an Adjuvant Treatment in Depression in Elderly Women

In 2018, researchers in Brazil conducted a study to evaluate if art therapy was beneficial as an adjuvant treatment for depression in the elderly. The results revealed that women receiving the art therapy treatment had significant improvements in Geriatric Depression Scale and Beck Anxiety Inventory scores as compared to the control group. They concluded that art therapy as an adjunctive treatment for depression in elderly women can improve depressive and anxiety symptoms.

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