Photo Credit: Jill Lee Chang

What is Creative Aging?

The United States is in the midst of a major demographic shift. The average life expectancy at birth rose from 47.3 years in 1900 to 76.9 years in 2000. People are living longer, which means that the population of older adults in the United States is growing.

While in 1999 the number of people over 65 totaled 34.5 million, or 12.7% of the population, it’s projected that by 2030 more than 70 million people— that’s 28% of Americans—will be 65 or older. The most dramatic shift, however, is among people 85 and older. Between 2000 and 2040, the number of Americans in this age range will more than triple—growing from 4.3 million to 19.4 million. By then, it is projected there will be a greater number of older people than school-age children.

Older people are currently, and are projected to be, more educated and wealthier than previous generations of Americans. Since biomedicine has eliminated some of the more debilitating conditions of old age, we can expect people to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before. Therefore, professionals in many disciplines are keenly interested in the theory and practice of creative work by, and for, older people—whether fully active or frail. Those in creative fields are finding an extraordinary opportunity: to transform the experience of being old in America by giving meaning and purpose, not only to aging, but to the community at large.

Why creativity? Click here to find out why the arts are so good for older people.

Source: Creativity Matters: Arts and Aging in America by Gay Hanna and Susan Perlstein