Creative activity in the ageing population: Findings from Wave 6 of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

Older adults in Ireland who participate in arts, creative and cultural activities report higher quality of life and lower levels of depression, stress, worry and loneliness, according to a new report from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin.

Commissioned by the Creative Ireland Programme of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the report uses data from Wave 6 of the study to examine the associations between engagement with the arts and creative activities and physical, mental, and behavioural health outcomes, as well as the long-term benefits of participation. The mean age in Wave 6 is 72.21 years old (range 61-101 years old).

It builds on a previous TILDA report, ‘Creative Activity in the Ageing Population’ (2021), by exploring engagement, motivations, and barriers to participation and the long-term relationship between participation, health, and quality of life.

Key Findings 

  • Older adults who have never participated in arts and creative activities or who no longer do report lower quality of life and higher levels of stress and worry compared to those who currently participate
  • There are long-term associations between higher quality of life and participation
  • Women are more likely to participate in arts and creative activities than men, with 62% of women current or past participants compared to 46% of men
  • Higher education attainment is associated with participation. Older adults with third level education are over five times more likely to participate compared to those with primary level education
  • Participation rates are highest in Dublin city and county and lower in more rural counties such as counties Kerry, Cavan, Monaghan, and Westmeath
  • The most popular type of activity was listening to, playing or teaching music, with 52% of participants engaging in this activity
  • The most frequent location for participation was a private home followed by community centres.

To foster greater involvement of older adults in creative pursuits, it is essential to establish policies that facilitate their participation while eliminating accessibility barriers, regardless of disability. Such measures have the potential to enhance the health and well-being of a rapidly expanding ageing population. – Principal Investigator of TILDA, Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny

Read the report 
‘Creative Activity in the Ageing Population: Findings from Wave 6 of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing’ is available here.


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