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Three State Government Agencies Join Forces to Launch Creative Aging TN

Nashville — The Tennessee Arts Commission is partnering with fellow Tennessee Livability Collaborative Members — the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability and the Tennessee Department of Health — to launch a new initiative and statewide grant opportunity called Creative Aging TN.

“The number of Tennessee seniors age 65 and over is expected to almost double from 850,000 in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2030,” according to an April 2017 Comptroller’s report on senior long-term care. Driven by the Baby Boom generation size and increasing lifespans, “this population change will result in significant growth in the demand for and potential cost of current services and programs.”

“Our 2014-2018 State Plan notes that current programs are already beyond maximum capacity. Programs that can delay or prevent seniors’ functional decline, allowing more to stay longer in their homes, can reduce the need for higher-cost services,” said Jim Shulman, Executive Director, TN Commission on Aging and Disability.

Participation in the arts can be a unique and effective pathway to help older adults stay active, healthy and engaged in their communities and in activities that give meaning and quality of life beyond basic health and safety.

“Research shows that arts participation in older adults can lead to better physical, mental and emotional health; enhance cognitive function; and increase social connections,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director, TN Arts Commission.

“There is no fountain of youth, but the good news is, staying physically and mentally active and engaged in our families and communities is a wonderful health elixir,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Everyone benefits from the wisdom, skill, and time active elders can invest in our kids and our communities, including each of us, as we age.”

Creative Aging TN will work to connect older adults with creative experiences in their communities and aims to help promote the following outcomes in older adults throughout the state: health and wellness; lifelong learning and engagement; increased positive attitudes/perceptions about aging; and connecting older adults to their communities.

On Tuesday, June 13, the partners offered a half-day workshop to individuals, artists, healthcare and senior-care providers, and nonprofit organizations interested in learning about how to offer arts-based programming to seniors. Hosted by Knoxville’s O’Connor Senior Center, participants learned about the field of creative aging and best practices in the field, as well as details about the new grant opportunity.

The grant will provide one-time seed funding for innovative projects through the arts that will promote healthy aging of seniors and encourages community partnerships that have the potential for sustainability. Successful projects will encourage senior creativity, physical activity, and/or community engagement through the arts.
Jennie Smith-Peers, Executive Director of National Center for Creative Aging, was the featured speaker. Smith-Peers is a national leader in supporting capacity building, cutting-edge research, and public policies for older adults in the arts.

The workshop also included presentations by Jim Shulman, Executive Director, TN Commission on Aging & Disability; Erica Wilson, Community Services Director, TN Dept. of Health; Anne B. Pope, Executive Director, TN Arts Commission; and Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access, TN Arts Commission.

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