The famous American artist, Will Barnet, certainly could speak to achieving many artistic accolades throughout his 101 years of life, including receiving the National Medal of Arts in 2012 at the age of 100. He truly believed in the power of artistic expression! As he once said, “Painting is almost like a religious experience, which should go on and on. Age just gives you the freedom to do some things you've never done before. Great work can come at any stage of your life.”
Art Programming for Older Adults
At Walker Methodist, we believe in the power of the arts and the important role they play in the lives of our residents. The arts are valuable for not only the social and psychological benefits but also for health benefits. Research from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) - and others - found that social isolation constitutes a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality, especially in older adults. Research has also shown that loneliness may have a physical as well as an emotional impact. For example, people who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure.
Art programming – both formal and more informal – is alive and well within Walker Methodist Communities. Long-standing and ongoing programming options are offered through the MacPhail Center for the Arts, Soo Visual Arts Center, Artsy Smartsy, and others. More recently, Walker Methodist was awarded an arts grant from Aroha Philanthropies and its new statewide initiative, Seeding Vitality Arts MN. Aroha Philanthropies is devoted to the transformative power of the arts and creativity, inspiring vitality in those over 55.
Vitality Arts at Walker Methodist
The Vitality Arts programs are designed to improve the health, well-being, and renewed sense of purpose for older adults. Walker Methodist’s community of Highview Hills in Lakeville, MN was selected from a highly competitive field of applicants to be one of 15 organizations in Minnesota to develop and offer artful aging programs, led by qualified and credentialed teaching artists. The artists -- whose creative process and understanding of older adults -- bring a sense of connection, improved health and well-being, and a renewed sense of purpose to older adults.
In 2018, Highview Hills in Lakeville, MN, the literary arts programs will focus on memoir writing followed by a class in creative writing.We are honored to have Louis Porter II as our teaching artist and the sessions are available to residents of Highview Hills as well as older adults in the community. Dr. Porter has extensive experience working with older adults with the Artful Aging™ program offered through COMPAS in Minnesota.
The initial music workshop series will create an adult choral group and the second series will introduce an intergenerational aspect to the group. Jeanie Brindley-Barnett, faculty member at the MacPhail Center for Music, is the teaching artist for these two workshops. She brings a long history of working with older adults with MacPhail Music for Life™ program. The experience and expertise of these two teaching artists will offer a unique opportunity for participants to acquire new and formal skills and techniques to advance and master their creative abilities.
As the Director of Life Enrichment at Highview Hills, I believe the Vitality Arts programming opportunity at Highview Hills has the possibility of “transforming how residents, their families, staff and community members view the powerful benefits of arts. Not only does this program support the important element of social engagement, but it also will help our residents and community members learn and master an art form.” By the end of the program, I believe residents “will call themselves artists because of the confidence that they have achieved. I’m excited to be a part of this program and am thrilled for the benefits that our residents and community members will receive.”