“Dad’s creativity had profound positive effects on him and our family,” says his son, Dr. Daniel C. Potts, who founded Cognitive Dynamics
after his father’s death “to bring these therapeutic opportunities to others in like circumstances. The mission of the organization is to improve quality of life for those with cognitive impairment and their caregivers through the expressive arts and storytelling.”
Barriers to Participation
In spite of all the documented benefits of art in the lives of older adults, age brings a host of roadblocks to participation. Common problems include the lack of a program nearby, difficulties in getting to a venue, poor physical health, and the absence of a friend or partner with whom to participate.
Various groups are stepping in to fill the gap. Local organizations in urban communities, such as New York City’s Elders Share the Arts (ESTA)
, provide programs for thousands of people.
Many more participate through outreach programs originating in institutions. The Art Institute of Chicago’s Art Insights program offers visits to retirement communities, bringing the arts to older adults who can’t visit the museum itself.
The institute also partners with Well Connected and Telephone Topics, using a telephone to reach even the most isolated senior. You can find telephone programs for older adults
, including programs in Spanish, through DOROT’s University Without Walls.
In the book “Successful Aging,” the authors discuss the three supports of a good life in later years: low risk of disease, high mental and physical functioning, and being actively engaged in life. Art activities can help skew each of these in a positive fashion. Current research repeatedly supports the inclusion and enhancement of art involvement for older adults. The prescription for good health ought to include artistic endeavors.