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  • Author or Editor: Andrew Newman x
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Creativity, culture and community

Understanding how creative interventions can help develop social connectivity and resilience for older people is vital in developing a holistic cross-sector approach towards ageing well.

Academics with a wide range of expertise critically reflect on how the built environment, community living, cultural participation, lifelong learning, and artist-led interventions encourage older people to thrive and overcome both challenging life events and the everyday changes associated with ageing.

The book uses a range of approaches, including participatory research methods, to bring the voices of older people themselves to the foreground. It looks at how taking part in creative interventions develops different types of social relationships and fosters resilience.

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This chapter explores how and why older people construct narrative identities in response to encounters with contemporary visual art. The respondents rejected the negative characteristics they associated with being old and articulated a more positive counter narrative associated with active and involved older people. The narratives they constructed were also inflected by meta-narratives of family, class and the history of north-east England. This work has implications for arts and cultural policy suggesting that more emphasis be placed on how artworks are consumed. It also provides a greater understanding of the value of arts engagement for older people.

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This chapter analyses data from a large-scale, mixed methods project wherein groups of people with dementia were invited to take part in visual arts activities. It assesses how visual arts enrichment activities might play a role in the resilience of people in later life living with dementia in care homes, through the development or preservation of narrative identities. The respondents demonstrated narrative intelligence that was expressed through the poem and the theatrical poses. Both of the activities supported the resilience of those who took part through facilitating narrative expression, for which those living in care homes often have few opportunities. The forms of narrative involved focused on the present and demonstrated that those with dementia were capable of creativity. Ultimately, this work contributes to thinking about the nature of narrative care, suggesting new approaches that help those in care institutions to retain their existing and develop new identities, facilitating narrative openness and resilience.

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This chapter discusses the narratives of ageing, looking at how older people can reflect on their lives and explore new opportunities. This concern with how older people represent themselves, and are represented by others, is a relatively new one in gerontology. On the other hand, images of old age and especially ageing bodies have such a powerful and largely negative impact on social attitudes to older people. The NDA authors seek to challenge this point of view by developing transformative narratives through participation in a range of arts-related activities including reading, art appreciation, community arts, and photography. This chapter examines five path-breaking NDA projects where older people actively engaged with the dominant cultural narratives of ageing. It also explores more positive and personally enriching narratives which demonstrate creativity and opened up numerous new possibilities for them.

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This chapter discusses the various aspects of health and well-being in later life that were studied by fourteen different NDA projects. The first part of this chapter examines some of the key concepts in this field, including quality of life and subjective well-being. It focuses on the barriers to healthy ageing and good quality of life in old age. These include economic barriers, physiological effects, limits to mobility, barriers to paid employment, and psychosocial barriers. The second half of the chapter looks at interventions to support well-being and healthy ageing. Drawing on the extensive testing of models by the NDA projects, the chapter focuses on six different types of intervention: financial, pharmacological, physical (exercise), environmental (blue light and OWL), community music making, and engagement with art.

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This chapter presents a comprehensive introduction to the major gerontological topic of participation and social connectivity based on eleven separate NDA projects. Looking at Brazil, India, and South Africa, the chapter begins with a summary of the critical importance of participation to health and well-being in later life. It challenges negative stereotypes of ageing and older people, such as declining participation. It shows that older people do participate and are often tenacious in this but they are often confronted with multiple barriers that prevent them from doing so. The chapter concludes by citing examples on how to improve meaningful participation in later life, which ranges from community arts to literature.

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