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Developing a Livable Chicago for all Ages: Engaging Older Adults Through Arts and Culture – 2008


Chicago is one of the most populous cities in the country with more than 10 percent of its current population being over the age of 65. As with the rest of the nation’s older adult population, this number is projected to grow significantly over the next two decades as the country faces a dramatic age shift. Partners for Livable Communities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, with support from MetLife Foundation, conducted a workshop to examine the importance of engaging older adults in the community through arts and culture programs.

Key Points

This report, the fifth in a series, outlines and analyzes the topics discussed in a workshop conducted in Chicago, Illinois, as well as introduces existing organizations that aim to connect older adults with culture and arts programs in the area. Because culture and the arts are highly valued in the city of Chicago, connecting older adults to these activities keeps them engaged in their communities. Though arts and culture programs for older adults are not typically considered as critical to aging in place strategies as transportation or healthcare, these activities are essential for seniors to remain engaged, active, and healthy in their communities.

Other report highlights include:

  1. “Research indicates that older adults who participate in arts and cultural activities report higher overall health.”
  2. Chicago’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates over $1 billion in local economic activity. This provides an opportunity for the local arts and culture industry to reach out and engage older adults in existing programs and organizations that will further stimulate the local economy.
  3. The Culture Bus of CJE SeniorLife in Chicago is a program offered by SeniorLife’s Adult Day Services division. It takes older adults with Alzheimer’s or other forms of early dementia on cultural day trips. These trips provide participants with an opportunity to remain actively engaged in the community through cultural stimulation, education, and recreation among peers.

This report is an excellent resource for community leaders, planners, and local officials seeking ways to engage their community’s older adult population as they continue to age and face increasing mobility obstacles.

How to Use

Planners, local officials, and community leaders can use this plan to gain a better understanding of the critical role arts and culture programs play in allowing older adults to age in place while maintaining a sense of connection to their communities. The examples shared are worth imitating.

View full report: Developing a Livable Chicago for all Ages: Engaging Older Adults Through Arts and Culture – 2008 (PDF – 5.4 MB)

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