ISBN: 978-1-907894-37-4

Creative activity in the ageing population

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Hever A, Kenny RA, Scarlett S, Ward M

Year of Publication:

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

Publication Type:


The following report presents findings on creative activity participation among older adults in Ireland using data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).
TILDA is a nationally representative study of community dwelling adults aged 50 years older in Ireland. TILDA visits its participants every two years to interview them about their social, economic, health and financial situation.

In March 2020, Ireland began implementing a range of restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the population. Many of these restrictions focused on keeping the older population safe, but also resulted in isolation and lost social links. Research from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) found that average loneliness in the adults aged 60 years and over during the first lockdown (March to November 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic was more than double the average score in 2018/2019 and was associated with lower quality of life during this time (1). Depressive symptoms were now reported by almost 25% of this same group, compared with less than 10% in 2018 (2).

In July 2020, the Creativity in Older Age programme was launched with a view to introducing creative initiatives in a group hit hardest by the pandemic (3). These initiatives sought to offset some of the impact of the COVID-19 measures which,
though necessary, impacted the lives of the older population. As part of the Creativity in Older Age programme, a research project with TILDA was undertaken to measure the effects of participation in creative activities on the health and wellbeing of the older population.

This research assesses involvement in a range of creative activities including going out to films, concerts or plays, reading books or magazines for pleasure, listening to music,  radio, and doing creative activities or hobbies.
Using the data available, we produced a ‘creative activity score’ for each individual, taking into account the number of creative activities they were involved in and the frequency they partook in each activity.

In July 2020, TILDA additionally sent a questionnaire to each participant to capture the impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown period on their lives. Using this data, they investigated how involvement in creative activities affects the health and wellbeing of older adults over a nine-year period (2009-2018) and the impact of changes in involvement during the COVID-19 pandemic.These findings detail the importance of access to creative activities in older ages, and provide the foundation for future, more in-depth analyses on involvement,motivations, and barriers to participation.

Evidence Type: Qualitative Research

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Context: Community

Participant Group: Older Adults

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Scarlett S., Hever A., Ward M.,Kenny,R.A. (2021). Creative activity in the ageing population. Dublin: The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.