Last week I attended the American Society on Aging/National Council on Aging Conference in Chicago. I was delighted to meet with colleagues around the country who are focused on the transformational power of creative arts and aging. We are a small group – but dedicated in our belief that engagement in the arts has the potential to transform how we age- cognitively, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We honored our colleague, Dr. Gene Cohen, who was instrumental in infusing our work with the scientific basis for engaging an older person’s potential, rather than focusing on what they lose as they age. His ongoing research, including “The Creativity and Aging” Study has had a tremendous impact on providing evidence of significant health benefits for older adults who take part in arts programs led by professional artists. His numerous publications, including two books: The Creative Age and The Mature Mind open the door to the possibilities of transforming our culture to one that embraces and celebrates the gifts of older adults.
Dr. Cohen passed away last November. His work continues to inspire and inform our work at Kairos and The Dancing Heart. I keep on remembering several of his sayings: “If not now, when?” and “What can they do to me?” It is time to listen to my muse and step full hearted into what really matters to me.