Date of Conferral







Ellen Levine


Numerous researchers have explored the benefit of creative activities for the aging population diagnosed with dementia. However, there is a lack of data available to community administrators and organizers of senior residences about how successful aging may be enhanced, in the relatively healthy older adults, through their participation in creative art-making. Activities that provide mental stimulation, facilitate expression of emotions, and that are related to overall psychological well-being can provide a foundation for healthy aging. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to explore older adults' subjective experience of engaging in creative artwork. The conceptual framework that guided this phenomenological study was based on Lazarus's cognitive-emotional-relational theory of emotions. The focus of the research questions was on the subjective experience of 10 older adults who participated in 7 weekly art sessions offered at a senior residence. Audiotaped interviews that were held after the last art-making session, together with participants' artwork and field notes, were analyzed, coded, and then categorized into themes. Results indicated the participants learned they can be creative, and that their images became a visual inroad to meaningful expression of emotions, insight, and motivation. The results point to evident social change when community organizers and administrators of senior residences increase activities for residents, especially meaningful activities designed to facilitate expression of emotions and insight during later life. Creative image-making activities can lead to continued learning, heightened social interactions, increased mental fitness, reduced depression, and enhanced healthy aging.

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