The National Endowment for the Arts collaborated with George Washington University to conduct a national study aimed at assessing the impact of community based cultural programs on the general health, mental health, and social activities of persons 65 and older. With a multi-year program engaging seniors in Washington DC, New York City, and San Francisco, the study measured general health, medical usage and overall morale of seniors within the programs. The results of the study found that the presence of cultural groups in retirement facilities led to stabilization and improvement and actually increased community-based activities in general among those in the cultural programs, leading to better mental health and reducing dependency.
In partnership with Fund for the Arts, Treyton Oak Towers is the pilot participant in the Arts in Aging program, which aims to bring arts and cultural events to retirement facilities in the Louisville area. “We are very excited to be a part of this program,” Rhonda Harding, Treyton Oak Tower’s Director of Residency Development said, “Our residents are huge supporters of the arts communities.”
Treyton Oaks Towers first realized the transformative powers of the arts five years ago when they began sponsoring the Louisville Orchestra’s Coffee Concert Series and began busing their residents downtown.. “We got such an overwhelming responses not only from our residents, but also from the community,” Harding said. “The community thanked us for the arts experiences. With that type of goodwill, we decided to see where else to go in the arts community. When you are making so many people happy, why wouldn’t we do it?” Since forming their partnership with Fund for the Arts in December, Treyton Oak Towers has expanded its program to bring more arts programs into its community, like a troupe of singers and dancers from Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School.
The program has a real impact on the Treyton Oak community. “We find the residents who are involved in the arts maintain their cognitive levels at a higher capacity and are able to socialize over something they have in common,” Harding said. “I also have seen firsthand how it improves lives. I’ve seen Alzheimer’s patients be unresponsive, but when they hear classical music they become responsive.”
Harding is optimistic for what this program will accomplish. “I am very hopeful for the future and seeing what this program does produce, not just for Treyton Oak Towers, but the community as a whole. I can’t think of a better way to bring joy to this generation.”