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Arts and culture can combat loneliness among older people, says new research

New research shows how arts and culture can help to improve health, wellbeing and quality of life for older people aged 65 and upwards. The survey from ComRes1 on behalf of Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts, shows that 76% of older people say that arts and culture is important to making them feel happy.

With the UK’s older population continuing to grow significantly, the survey also highlights how arts and cultural activities could potentially help to tackle key social issues such as loneliness and isolation, which can increase during the winter months with longer nights and colder weather making it harder for older people to get out and about. The results show that 57% of older people say that arts and culture is important in helping them to meet other people, whilst 51% say that it is important in making them feel less alone. 60% also go on to say that arts and culture is important in making them feel healthy, with the same proportion (60%) saying it is important in encouraging them to get out and about.

The results also show that over half of older people (52%) say they attend or participate less in arts and cultural activity now than in their teenage years, with respondents citing better access to venues and having someone to go with as key ways in which to encourage attendance from this age group.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, says: “We know that the arts can help to significantly improve health and wellbeing.

“We want to encourage older people to experience some of the great cultural activities that we have to offer in this country; from high profile performances, to informal, free events in other settings.

“With research showing that engagement in the arts tails off as people get older, we need to get cleverer about how we engage older people and tackle the barriers to taking part. Later in the year, we will be making new funds available for arts organisations to build on some of the great work they are already doing to enhance engagement with the older population.”