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Counter Culture / November 22, 2021

Participating in creative activity as an adult reduces loneliness, depression and stress

Photo by Marty O’Neill on Unsplash
Counter Culture / November 22, 2021

Participating in creative activity as an adult reduces loneliness, depression and stress

Words: Dylan Murphy

According to a new study, undertaking creative activities in adult years promotes health and wellbeing and reduces loneliness, depression and stress.

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin released a new report that investigated how creative activity impacts on the lives of older people.The report commissioned by the Creative Ireland Programme found that older adults who participated in creative activities enjoyed a higher quality of life and were less likely to be lonely, depressed and stressed than their contemporaries who do not.

Amongst the key findings were:

·       53.5% of older adults surveyed were involved in creative activities or hobbies on a weekly basis.

·       Those with the highest levels of involvement in creative activities reported the highest quality of life, and scored lowest on loneliness, depression, and stress measurements.

·       The level of involvement in creative activities was consistent between ages 50-74 years, but declined rapidly from 75 years and older.

·       There is a strong correlation between higher educational attainment and higher income and regular involvement in creative activities, reflecting similar patterns of arts and cultural participation observed among the younger population in Ireland.

·       Women were over three times more likely than men to read books, magazines or newspapers for pleasure weekly.

·       Declining vision and health impacted on participation in creative activities.

·       Those adults who reported higher levels of physical activity also reported moderate or high creative activity and those who did not smoke also reported high levels of creative activity.

·       26% of older adults reported doing creative hobbies more often during COVID-19 lockdown.


Speaking on the report, Minister Martin said, “The findings of this research are a welcome confirmation of the powerful case for promoting participation in creative life amongst older members of our communities.  Increased involvement in creative activities in older age can improve health and wellbeing in older age, and I will continue to work with my colleagues across Government to promote, develop and support access to creative initiatives.”

Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA and Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin said,  “With well over a decade of research complete, TILDA has a unique and rich dataset to draw upon to show key aspects of successful ageing. This report highlights that participation in creative activities is high among older adults, and has a strong positive effect on overall physical health, mental health and quality of life. These are important research observations.  In order to help more older adults engage with creative activities, policies that  enable participation in creative activities and remove barriers of access irrespective of disability are a potential means of improving health and wellbeing in a fast growing ageing demographic.”

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