Music and dance ‘give people a real lift in later life’

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From an original article By Jane Kirby

Playing the piano, singing, and dancing boost wellbeing in later life, researchers have concluded. The Wellbeing Index report analysed data from 15,000 people aged 60 and over.

The results showed that taking part in creative activities such as the arts had the most direct influence in improving a person’s wellbeing in later life.

Activities included dancing, playing a musical instrument, visiting museums, photography, singing, painting and writing. The report found that all the people in the top fifth for wellbeing were involved in some form of creative and cultural activity.

They were also four times more likely than the bottom fifth to be involved in social pursuits, such as being a member of a social or sports club. Most (95 per cent) had two or more friends and nine out of 10 also did some form of exercise. Those in the top fifth for wellbeing had considerably higher thinking skills in cognitive tests – such as numeracy and recalling words – compared to those in the bottom fifth.

Only one out of five people in the top fifth lived alone and while one in five cared for another person, they did so less intensely than those in the bottom fifth. People in this group also rated neighbourliness higher while 75 per cent had no long-standing illness or disability.

Some 85 per cent also owned their own home outright and had an average financial wealth of over £50,000.

Meanwhile, people in the bottom fifth had lower cognitive skills, were more likely to be caring for somebody for more than 20 hours a week and 23 per cent did not take part in creative and cultural activities. More than half lived alone.

Most (85 per cent) were not engaged in regular social activities, and 13 per cent reported having no friends.