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      Participatory arts for older adults: a review of benefits and challenges.

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          Abstract

          This article reviews the scientific literature on the enhancement of healthy aging in older adults through active participation in the arts. Methodologies and conclusions are described for studies of dance, expressive writing, music (singing and instrumental), theatre arts, and visual arts including documentation of mental/physical improvements in memory, creativity, problem solving, everyday competence, reaction time, balance/gait, and quality of life. In addition to these gains in measures of successful aging, the article also provides (in a Supplementary Appendix) some selected examples of arts engagement for remedial purposes. Finally, it offers suggestions for expanding inquiry into this underinvestigated corner of aging research.

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          Most cited references36

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          Social Isolation and Health, with an Emphasis on Underlying Mechanisms

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            Aerobic exercise effects on cognitive and neural plasticity in older adults.

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              Is Open Access

              Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions

              During aging, sensorimotor, cognitive and physical performance decline, but can improve by training and exercise indicating that age-related changes are treatable. Dancing is increasingly used as an intervention because it combines many diverse features making it a promising neuroplasticity-inducing tool. We here investigated the effects of a 6-month dance class (1 h/week) on a group of healthy elderly individuals compared to a matched control group (CG). We performed a broad assessment covering cognition, intelligence, attention, reaction time, motor, tactile, and postural performance, as well as subjective well-being and cardio-respiratory performance. After 6 months, in the CG no changes, or further degradation of performance was found. In the dance group, beneficial effects were found for dance-related parameters such as posture and reaction times, but also for cognitive, tactile, motor performance, and subjective well-being. These effects developed without alterations in the cardio-respiratory performance. Correlation of baseline performance with the improvement following intervention revealed that those individuals, who benefitted most from the intervention, were those who showed the lowest performance prior to the intervention. Our findings corroborate previous observations that dancing evokes widespread positive effects. The pre-post design used in the present study implies that the efficacy of dance is most likely not based on a selection bias of particularly gifted individuals. The lack of changes of cardio-respiratory fitness indicates that even moderate levels of physical activity can in combination with rich sensorimotor, cognitive, social, and emotional challenges act to ameliorate a wide spectrum of age-related decline.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Gerontologist
                The Gerontologist
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1758-5341
                0016-9013
                Oct 2014
                : 54
                : 5
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Theatre, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois. noicea@net.elmhurst.edu.
                [2 ] Department of Psychology, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois.
                [3 ] Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
                Article
                gnt138
                10.1093/geront/gnt138
                4229893
                24336875
                7b683ada-79fa-4e63-8274-3e50fd3ef94f
                History

                Arts,Cognition,Health benefits,Quality of life
                Arts, Cognition, Health benefits, Quality of life

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