How Creativity and the Arts Enhanced the Life of a Chinese Elderly Immigrant in Canada: A Shared Exploration of a Life Lived Fully

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Au, Kit Yin
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How do creativity and the arts have positive influence on the aging process of a Chinese elderly immigrant in Canada? Fisher and Specht (as cited in Reynolds, 2010) suggested that visual art making in later life contributes to the older adults' well-being in several ways, such as gaining a sense of achievement, purpose in life, and connection with others. In this thesis, I describe my conversations with a 94-year old Chinese senior who is fully engaged in the arts and creative activities, and explore her perception of the positive effects that arts have on her as she ages. Research on aging has indicated that older people who are engaged in activities that provide them with a sense of mastery have more positive health outcomes (as cited in Cohen, 2006). Feeling a sense of mastery in an area results in a sense of control of one's self, which leads to an increased feelings of empowerment. Art activities help to keep the elders' minds challenged thus make their brains healthier (Cohen, 2006). Art-making process allows older adults to express emotions, which in turn can be healing, satisfying, and meaningful (Rugh, 1991). Older people are vulnerable to social isolation and restrictions in doing activities, particularly those who are in poor health. Engaging in the arts helps them to maintain their value as a person in the world and to stay closely connected to the rest of the world, instead of being stereotyped by age or disability (Reynolds, 2010).
Chinese immigrants in Canada, aging, arts and aging