Creative Aging encompasses a broad spectrum of professionals working with older adults through the arts. This includes professional artists, creative arts therapists, arts educators, doctors, nurses, social workers, and health care administrators, to name but a few, together with older Americans and their families who engage in Creative Aging Programs. The field of Creative Aging has evolved rapidly in the United States in the past decade. Creative Aging professionals provide vital services for aging Americans, helping them to live independently for longer and improving health and wellbeing for those in long term care. The Creative Aging Movement has also helped shift the national discussion on aging, from one of illness and marginalization of old people, to a more positive understanding of the capabilities and potential of older adults.
Founded by Dr. Gene Cohen and Susan Perlstein, the National Center of Creative Aging (NCCA) is the hub of the field, identifying best practice programs nationwide, disseminating valuable resources to professionals and families of older adults, coordinating research opportunities, and organizing an annual conference. The 2015 NCCA conference marked a notable milestone in the field, as several NCCA initiatives were developed and expanded in coordination with The Whitehouse Conference on Aging, with hundreds of best-practice creative programs well established across the country and evolving research initiatives.
I am proud to introduce the rich and meaningful work of a handful of creative aging professionals in this special issue. As an art therapist, artist, educator and researcher, I am particularly interested in highlighting the intersection of related fields that work toward the common mission of improving the lives of older Americans. Janine Tursini, the Executive Director of Arts for the Aging (AFTA), discusses the seminal work of AFTA, Best Practices Creative Aging Arts Program, from her position as a director/administrator. Anne Mondro, Professor of Art at the University of Michigan, discusses her community artwork with older adults from an artist/researcher/educator perspective. Teaching artist, Anthony Hyatt, illustrates his work with Quicksilver Dance Company as well as other work he has done as a musician working with older adults. Donna Newman-Bluestein, dance movement therapist, inventor of the Octaband, explains how dance/movement therapy reaches older adults with dementia.