The meaning of a visual arts program for older adults in long-term care




Rodrigues, Lycia M.

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This research is focused on the experiences of older adults participating in an innovative visual arts program at a long-term care facility in Victoria, British Columbia. The program offers participants an opportunity to explore their creativity and identity as artists. Conceptually, the study draws from Tornstam’s gerotranscendance framework (Tornstam, 2005) and the theory of meaning (Frankl, 1963). A narrative inquiry approach was used with data collected through face-to-face interviews and observations of 10 residents and three staff involved in the visual arts program. Findings indicate that the program fostered a sense of community among participants and enhanced their quality of life. The public exhibition of their artwork at a community-based art exhibit validated the merit of their work and gave meaning and purpose to their participation in the program. Findings contribute to a greater understanding of the importance of arts programs that foster creativity in later life and resonate with Tornstam’s (2005) argument that older people living in institutions can experience multiple dimensions of the self through individualized forms of expression. This study concludes by highlighting the need to increase access to arts programs for older people living in residential care.



older adults, visual arts program, long-term care, creativity, meaning