Involving Older People Collaborative Research Project - The older persons' experiences of creativity in relation to wellbeing: a collaborative research project-
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Burns, J., Oliver, S. & Karkou, V. (2008-09) Involving Older People Collaborative Research Project - The older persons' experiences of creativity in relation to wellbeing: a collaborative research project-, no. 61, Edinburgh.
Executive Summary - Although there is evidence that creativity might be linked with older persons' wellbeing, there are few published studies that systematically explore the experiences of people who have recently retired. The few available studies stress the value of engagement of older persons within the first 5 years after retirement (Withnall and Thompson 2003) and their preference for active participation in creative projects dealing with issues that affect their lives (Bennets et al 2005). Some positive outcomes from engaging with the arts include: expression of feelings and thoughts, sensory stimulation and improvement of self-esteem (McMurray 1989). - This collaborative study aimed to explore the experiences of older persons who had recently retired in relation to engagement in the creative arts and identifying any links between participation in the arts and wellbeing. In order to address this aim an action research methodology was adopted that involved a circular flexible design. A research team based at Queen Margaret University (QMU) and two co-researchers, older persons based in the community, led the study. Qualitative information was generated from 15 co-participants (older persons recently retired based in East Lothian and the wider community) through interviews, participant observations and discussions/reflections. Co-participants were also invited to participate in and reflect upon creative arts workshops that were particularly designed for this project. Collected information was analysed using thematic analysis. - Key findings from this study were that the feeling of belonging to a community was important. Most co-participants liked a wide choice of arts activities and were often introduced to new ideas by their friends. They sought sustained, in-depth art experiences where they felt challenged and stimulated, rather than short, superficial courses; some like to strive towards a finished product and were critical about their own achievements, while for others, taking part was more important. The stimulation of new forms of creativity was perceived to be beneficial to mental and physical wellbeing, but the activities had to be fun as well.