Evidencing the impact of and need for Acting Up

An aging population has obvious implications for demand on health service resources. There has therefore been increased interest in identifying activities which contribute to the prevention of mental and physical health problems in older adults. Particular interest is focused on the things which older adults can do to keep themselves mentally and physically well and socially connected.

An additional effect of an aging population is that older adults are playing a greater part in society, challenging traditional ideas of aging. Promoting a positive image of older adults as an active part of wider society and developing opportunities for older adults to have their voices and experiences recognised is of vital importance in building healthy and equal communities.

Acting Up is a project which combines both of these approaches to great effect.

Established in Northern Ireland in 2011 by the arts organisation, Kaleidoscope, Acting Up offers opportunities for older adults to get involved in creative activities, specifically the performing arts. A limited but emerging evidence base suggests that involvement in creative arts can lead to significant improvements in:

  • memory
  • problem solving
  • physical and mental wellbeing

It also provides an opportunity for meaningful social interaction. This report explores the impact of participation in Acting Up on the older adults involved and the need for the Acting Up project to be rolled out across the UK.