Why do we value Arts & Culture so highly in the care we offer at The Village?
If you’ve spent any time at all browsing our social media pages, navigating our website, or looking round the community here at White River Junction, you’ll have noticed how important Arts & Culture are to The Village. From live music and play readings to lectures, art classes, music lessons, cinema screenings, Q&A sessions with local artists, poetry recitals and visits from actors with a connection to the area – our extensive program of Arts & Cultural activities forms the core of The Village experience.
But why is this? What are the advantages of our cultural focus and why is it so important to our residents? Here a few facts that inspired our approach:
1. Art Offers Tangible Health Benefits
In a vast study of over 60,000 seniors in Art programs conducted in the period between 2005 and 2016, Professor Peishan Yang from National Taiwan University saw a range of demonstrable health benefits caused by increased engagement with the arts. She found that participants:
- Were less likely to be depressed
- Were less likely to be lonely
- Had higher morale
- In some cases had improved dexterity in their hands
- Had increased levels of confidence.
Studies have shown that specially devised art activities can have a positive impact in protecting against health conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, by regulating blood pressure, encouraging the formation of new neural pathways in the brain through creativity and imaginative thought, and improving focus.
2. Art Reduces Stress Levels
The negative effects of stress are well-documented, and engagement with the arts, whether passive (attending a concert or listening to talk) or active (painting a picture or playing a musical instrument) has been proven to reduce stress levels. Chronic stress can kill brain cells, have a detrimental effect on a person’s sociability and reduce the brain’s ability to learn and create new memories; numerous studies have shown a correlation between art-engagement and reduced symptoms of the effects of stress.
3. Art Improves Quality of Life
There is a wealth of evidence to support the notion that cultural pursuits improve the social and mental well-being of seniors. Promoting social interaction through cultural events prevents isolation and offers seniors a pretext to meet new people and form relationships with others who have a shared interest. Many of those who engage in regular cultural activities describe the positive effects of a regularly scheduled activity, perhaps a weekly art class or story-telling session, in providing structure and giving shape to their week.
Active cultural pursuits attended regularly over a period of time offer major quality of life incentives – seniors who can chart their progress in a particular skill over weeks or months refer to the contentment, satisfaction and confidence that it brings. For instance, learning to draw, paint or play a musical instrument, learning poetry or songs to recite, writing a diary or memoir – all offer the opportunity for quantifiable progress and regular achievement.
4. Art Promotes Sense of Identity
Engaging with the arts is a subjective endeavor. When we watch a film or TV show, or listen to a piece of music, the reaction we have is completely unique and individual to us. Even if our reaction remains internal or unexplored, this process is a key part of maintaining our sense of self as we get older. Returning to certain pieces of art, perhaps a song or story, or a particular image, may remind us very clearly of a specific time in our lives, or a person, or experience. These links with the past can be incredibly valuable for an older adult in retaining their sense of self, in reinforcing their memory and personality.
Arts & Culture encourages us to explore the parts of ourselves that make us who we are. Aside from the fantastic health and wellness benefits, at The Village we value each member of our community for their individuality – we know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to Assisted Living or Memory Care – so we put arts and cultural activities at center of our philosophy to encourage each member of our community to embrace the things that make them unique, and let us support them by taking care of everything else.