The Meaning of a Visual Arts Program for Older Adults in Complex Residential Care

Can J Aging. 2019 Jun;38(2):143-154. doi: 10.1017/S0714980818000508.


ABSTRACTThis qualitative study explores the experiences of older adults participating in a creative visual arts program at a residential care facility in Victoria, British Columbia. A narrative inquiry approach was used to conduct face-to-face interviews with 10 residents and three program staff in addition to the systematic observations of program activities and an arts exhibit. The findings reveal the program fostered a sense of community among participants and enhanced their sense of self-worth as artists. A public art exhibition at a community centre underlined the value of residents' artwork and gave meaning and purpose to their involvement in the program. Findings show the importance of arts programs in fostering creativity in later life and illustrate how people living in institutions can experience multiple dimensions of the self through artistic forms of expression. This study highlights the need to increase access to arts programs for individuals living in residential care.

Keywords: aging; arts visuels; community inclusion; enquête narrative; inclusion communautaire; narrative inquiry; older adults; personnes âgées; residential care; soins en résidence; vieillissement; visual arts.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology
  • Art Therapy*
  • Assisted Living Facilities*
  • Community Participation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged