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Social Distancing Doesn’t Need to Equal Social Isolation for Older Adults

Category: Alliance Blog
A stylized graphic of people facing toward windows and engaging in a variety of activities like playing an instrument, doing yoga, and window-watching.
Lifetime Arts, a nationally recognized leader in creative aging programming, is rolling out free resources to help continue engagement with older adults during COVID-19. Photo credit: Shua Baber on Unsplash

As COVID-19 continues to present intense challenges, the world is laser-focused on what social distancing means in particular for older adults and those who serve them. The pandemic not only presents a heightened health risk to older adults, but exacerbates issues of isolation that the demographic already faced.

Once stay-at-home orders took hold and in-person creative aging programming was canceled, we at Lifetime Arts started to hear stories about teaching artists and programming organizations making “on-the-fly” adjustments to their offerings. Teams acted quickly to ensure that the momentum and social bonds generated during the workshop series did not end abruptly. We have compiled a series of interviews with these practitioners into a campaign called “Connect Through Creativity Now.” Initially, we were covering any and all types of arts outreach to older adults; going forward we will focus on documenting work related to the formal creative aging model.

Lifetime Arts’ Director of Education Annie Montgomery and Education Associate Julie Kline talk about what COVID-19 meant for them and their peers in the arts education field, the genesis of the campaign, why we are offering “Creative Aging 101” now, and about what to keep in mind when designing remote learning for older adults.

We also produced and launched a mini-course titled “Creative Aging 101: Taking Steps to Build Your Program,” a free, one-hour, abridged version of our full-day professional development training on planning and implementing successful arts education programming for older adults. “Creative Aging 101” features:

  • A brief overview of the field
  • Best practices for teaching older adults
  • A demonstration of how teaching artists incorporate social engagement techniques into their lessons
  • An introduction to the program model
  • Ways organizations can start planning for future programming, and
  • Insights into how teaching artists solve for typical challenges

We have also updated the course with a new resource designed to help teaching artists and programmers rethink curriculum design for remote delivery. “Adapting Creative Aging Course Design for Remote Program Delivery” (PDF) addresses issues related to: selecting appropriate art forms, determining optimal class size, considering adult learning concepts, combining synchronous vs. asynchronous content delivery, enlisting assistance to coordinate technology matters, and integrating social engagement techniques that will work in this format.

About Lifetime Arts

Lifetime Arts, the nationally recognized leader in creative aging program design and implementation, has been working in partnership with AAM and Aroha Philanthropies on Aroha’s Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums initiative. Visit to learn more about our work across the U.S.


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