Europe is the world's fastest ageing continent: one third of Europeans is 65 years or older. That percentage will increase in the years to come. This raises big questions. How do we make sure this age group will grow old in a dignified, happy and healthy way? How do we keep health care affordable? And how do we help them stay independent for longer? Finding the answers is an important humanitarian and economic challenge.
The macro-economic question of how we will finance health care and humanitarian questions about quality of life are closely linked, because happy people are, on average, healthier and more independent. This co-relation is well founded in science, and so is the relationship between cultural and social activities, and mental and physical vitality. Ageing, it appears, has less influence on people who stay actively involved in fascinating, challenging activities. Which aspects of artistic activities make the difference? And to what should you pay attention when offering arts to older people?
This short literature study will seek the answers to these questions by looking at the underlying (neuro)psychological processes. Five characteristics of arts participation will be highlight- ed: the relationship between happiness and health; the positive effect of plural stimulation (motorial, emotional, sensory, social) on older brains; the influence of fascinating activities on declining attention spans; the influence of social cohesion and personal interaction on happiness, and the contribution of meaningful activities to a positive sense of identity.