2017 Annual Report: CREATIVE AGING - Opening The Door To Health And Happiness

Older adults are living longer than at any other time in the history of humanity due to medical advances, improved health care, and access to better nutrition. Life expectancies for both men and women now reach well into the 80s and beyond. The U.S. Census 2016 population report estimates that Michigan is considered to be one of the oldest states in the nation with a median age of 39.7, two years higher than the national average.

With this substantial increase in lifespan, including many years lived during retirement, the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging (CSA) asked their State Advisory Council on Aging (SAC) to research creative aging and determine what opportunities are available to Michigan’s older adults to live quality lives. Not only do older adults want to fill this golden time with purpose, they are looking at ways to confront their mortality and review their accomplishments by asking these questions:

• What additional things can be accomplished?

• How can unfinished business be completed and unresolved conflicts be resolved during this second part of life?

• Where are organized activities and continuing education classes located that will improve old skills or help to learn and master new ones?

These questions are often asked beginning in midlife and continuing throughout the retirement years, with older adults ultimately seeking greater meaning in their life experiences. They realize they have gained considerable wisdom over time and believe it is important to share their knowledge and insights with their families and others, along with reminiscing about their life experiences. This report reviews what makes a creative aging program effective and lists existing programs that meet these criteria. The reader will find that many creative aging program links are strategically placed throughout the report to make it easier to access the information quickly via electronic devices. Some links are mentioned more than once as they are relevant to various sections of the report, and some organizations offer several different creative programs for older adults. Many creative programs are offered in each of the 16 Michigan AAA regions and some are listed in the report.

An online version of the report may be found here.