Seniors engaged in the arts report greater sense of well-being: Study

Seniors showcase a hip-hop dance performance at the Arts In Eldercare Seminar at Our Tampines Hub on Sept 6, 2017.
Seniors showcase a hip-hop dance performance at the Arts In Eldercare Seminar at Our Tampines Hub on Sept 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, sharing the results of the Arts for Ageing Well Study at the Arts In Eldercare Seminar on Sept 6, 2017.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, sharing the results of the Arts for Ageing Well Study at the Arts In Eldercare Seminar on Sept 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Watching a movie or a play, or looking at a painting, can significantly increase mental and physical health and quality of life for Singaporeans aged 50 and above, according to a new survey.

The results of the Arts for Ageing Well Study were released on Wednesday (Sept 6) by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at the Arts In Eldercare Seminar organised by the National Arts Council at Our Tampines Hub.

The pioneering study funded by the National Arts Council worked with a sample of 1,000 participants aged 50 and above. It is the first such study to look into the effects of arts attendance and participation on the holistic well-being of seniors here.

International studies and local anecdotal evidence had, in the past, suggested the benefits of the arts for seniors, but local empirical evidence was lacking.

The study collected data from last November to this February and was led by Assistant Professor Andy Ho of the School of Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University.

Of the seniors surveyed, 60 per cent had attended at least one arts-related activity in the past six months. The most popular art forms were film (28 per cent of respondents), theatre (25 per cent) and heritage-related activities (23 per cent).

Only 17 per cent of respondents had taken part in an arts-related activity in the past three months. However, both groups enjoyed a significantly higher quality of life, according to the study.

Those who attended arts events were significantly more likely to experience better self-perceived health, cognitive functioning and social support, compared with those who did not attend arts events.

Those who participated in the arts were significantly more inclined to have an elevated sense of fulfilment and life meaning, and possess better mental well-being.

Their engagement with the arts was affected by the cost of tickets and ease of access - whether the arts events were accessible via public transport. Barriers to engagement included lack of time and interest in the arts, as well as inability to appreciate the arts.

Ms Chua Ai Liang, senior director for engagement and participation at the National Arts Council, said the results of the study were encouraging.

"Beyond providing touch points such as the Silver Arts Festival for seniors to encounter quality and relevant arts content, we will continue to work with partners to enable a broad cross-section of seniors to experience arts in various social settings.

"We want to provide more opportunities for inter-generational interactions, to build and strengthen social bonds through the arts."

The Arts In Eldercare Seminar is organised alongside Silver Arts 2017, an ongoing festival of arts by seniors for seniors and their families.

Until Sept 24, the festival brings together 80 artists, young and old, in 38 programmes of theatre, music, film and other arts-related activities across the island.