Older adults receive the greatest benefits from an arts and aging program that exhibits effective practices: shows intentionality, meets needs, demonstrates participatory, sequential learning, includes professional teaching artists, evaluates impact, demonstrates excellence and high quality, engenders learning communities, plans for sustainability, and has circular program components.
The intent of arts and aging programs is to accomplish one or more outcome goals for older adults—all aimed at enhancing quality of life.
Mastery —skill or knowledge of a technique or topic—and social engagement —community involvement and a support network—are particularly important for older adults, and they are two areas in which the arts have significant impact.
Mastery is less important for people with dementia, for whom learning a new technique or topic may be difficult.
Concentric circles of influence spread out from the participants to affect family members, professional caregivers, staff, and members of the public.
Adult learning, which builds instruction around the experiences, interests, and goals of adults, is the educational philosophy that underlies effective arts and aging programs for cognitively fit older adults.