What is Creative Aging?

Great question! ESTA is one first organization's in the nation to think about this, and it was out of our work, and a handful of other organization's across the nation that we started to answer this.

What's fascinating about our beginning is that it coincided with and responded to major developments in the fields of gerontology and oral history. In gerontology, the psychiatrist Robert Butler, in his provocative book, Why Survive? Growing Old in America (1975), challenged the long-held medical belief that reminiscence was an early sign of senility and, as such, should be vigorously discouraged. Instead, he argued that reminiscence, an activity engaged in by people of all ages but in a heightened way by older adults, is an essential part of healthy aging.

Telling stories, and repeating those that hold particular significance, is vital to the creative process of achieving psychological integration - a process rooted in the discovery and passing on of one's legacy. Concurrently, the field of oral history, initially revived in the 1960's, had gained new respect and attention as a method of recovering and validating the lives of ordinary people and, in particular, the lives of ethnically diverse people, women, and those lacking official power or status.

In 2001, ESTA was selected to be one of four participating sites nationwide in the groundbreaking research study, "Creativity and Aging" conducted by Dr. Gene Cohen, Director of the Institute on Health, Humanities, and Aging at George Washington University. The first longitudinal study of its kind, findings point to the direct impact of creative engagement on overall physical, mental, and emotional health. Furthermore, Cohen believed that creativity in older adults can flourish with greater depth and richness given their vast knowledge and experiences that inform their creative efforts. This belief inspired and continues to be reflected in every program at Elders Share the Arts.

Finally, we want to share a video with you from Aroha Philanthropies. We think they do a great job of explaining Creative Aging and why it matters! Enjoy!