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

Gerontologist. 2014 Oct;54(5):741-53. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnt138. Epub 2013 Dec 11.


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.

Keywords: Arts; Cognition; Health benefits; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cognition
  • Creativity*
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Mental Health
  • Music
  • Problem Solving
  • Quality of Life*