Monday, October 24th, 2011
It’s never too late to get out your paint box or dust off your piano, according to Jeannine Liddle, a researcher from the University of Newcastle.

She’s been investigating the health and social benefits of women aged 80 and over who play a musical instrument, paint or do other arts and crafts – and the evidence is that these activities do wonders for health and happiness.

Speaking at the Regional Conference on Gerontology and Geriatrics Dr Liddle said “Contrary to the stereotype that getting older is about decline and giving up, the findings from my study show that women in their 80s, if they are physically able to, will give new activities a go.”

Drawing on data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, Dr Liddle found that hobbies or handiwork were done by 52.7% of the 5058 women surveyed and were particularly popular with women from rural areas. Playing a musical instrument or painting were done by 11.3%.

“Women were also involved in lots of different arts and crafts such as pottery, sculpture, drawing, doll and card making and many forms of needlework.”

Her study showed that changes in health, such as the onset of osteoarthritis or having a stroke impacted on women’s ability to get involved in these activities.

Women who stopped painting or playing a musical instrument also showed a decline in mental health.

Dr Liddle said that the study findings pointed to the need for more research into why health and happiness are linked to participation in music and art and craft hobbies in older women.

“What we now know, though, is that service providers and policy makers need to be factoring these type of activities into local programs in which older women can participate,” she says.

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Penny Underwood

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Hobbies, Dr Jeannine Liddle, University of Newcastle, Regional Conference of Gerontology and Geriatrics


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