Enhancing age friendliness through the arts

Enhancing age friendliness through the arts

Posted on August 27, 2015 by Kathy Black

We all know the arts offer many benefits to society, but did we know that the arts can be particularly age-friendly? Through various mediums, the arts can provide poignant understanding about both ourselves and others -- all in ways in which we might have never considered.

For example, take Florida Studio Theatre's play “Old Enough to Know Better.” The docudrama about aging – created from the stories shared by nearly 100 people aging throughout our community – shares common themes in which we can all relate. The play addresses topics impacting us personally and as a society.  Self-focused topics include a subjective sense of age (we all have a secret inner age), perspectives on one’s remaining lifespan (there are only so many sunsets left), and reminiscence (it is a universal spiritual quest to reflect upon the meaning and impact of one’s life).

Yet because we live in a community, many aspects of aging necessarily involve others. FST’s play also addresses issues pertaining to companionship (we are social beings), caring for others (we are interdependent beings throughout the lifespan), and issues pertaining to generativity (providing for offspring and future generations). Such socially-driven aspects of aging implore us to consider the broader environments in which we live, the importance of others throughout our lives, and ultimately, the world in which we will leave.

FST’s post-show talk-backs and panel discussion on aging revealed that audience-goers were indeed thinking about such topics. In fact, the play prompted much self-reflection and considerations beyond the 75 minute showing. In fact, many noted other poignant age-related issues were not addressed - such as managing transitions among the continuum of care. Fortunate for us, FST reports that additional themes/renditions pertaining to aging are in the works.

The post-play discourse and reflection will likely bode well for both individuals and our community as well. As we celebrate the “longevity dividend,” it is important to ponder  the new “old age” that has emerged.  After all, we are living longer than ever before and although each of us will face our own unique life course, let us also be reminded that we are also scripting a collective age-friendly community in which we can all thrive.

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