Why baby boomers see music and the arts as key to aging well

They described a world without arts and culture as colorless, depressing, uninteresting and “like a totalitarian state”. Participants talked about sharing music on Spotify with their grandchildren and using it to reflect on the times in their lives when the song was originally released. They saw the exhibits through the eyes of their grandchildren and used art and music to discuss larger topics that broke down barriers.

Dr Virginia Keft runs Bangawarra Art Yarns at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, a free contemporary art program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that helps support well-being and strengthen intergenerational family bonds.

“It’s about making it easy to connect. Artistic creation is an important part of that and an important part of culture,” Keft said. “You don’t have to be an artist, but spending time in a place and connecting around ideas of belonging, place and country is the stuff of Art Yarns.”

By encouraging dialogue between generations through art, Art Yarns provides a non-medical, socially engaged way to connect communities who are at higher risk of developing dementia, which occurs at a rate five times higher among indigenous populations than in non-indigenous populations, and at an earlier age of onset.

“From the perspective of Indigenous peoples, aging well is about connecting with culture and sharing cultural knowledge with younger generations. For this reason, Art Yarns invites participants to join their families,” Keft said. “The program is much more than just an art program, it incorporates yarn and history, art, song, land, environment, country – to be grounded in these cultural expressions are the principles keys to the program and are important for aging well.


“In some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups, there is a word for all of these things. The country incorporates the physical space, but also the emotional, spiritual and environmental connections with the people of the land and the land. They cannot be separated.

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