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Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-1936
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1944


Loneliness and social isolation are pertinent issues for older people due to the life transitions and loss often experienced in later life. Research points towards the potential for participatory arts with older people to address loneliness and social isolation; however, there is little conceptualization of the mechanisms through which this can be promoted. This conceptual review brings together selected literature that reports on the social impacts of participatory arts with older people to develop a conceptual framework of themes that respond specifically to understandings of the experience of loneliness and social isolation. First, participatory arts can strengthen existing relationships and build new relationships by facilitating social interaction and promoting social capital, thus promoting social embeddedness in the community. Second, participatory arts can address the discrepancies between expected or desired relationships and reality by enhancing well-being, self-worth and a sense of belonging that helps older people to feel more content with their social lives. Third, participatory arts can be accessible and inclusive of everyone and enables older people to make a valued contribution towards the community, which facilitates meaningful social participation. This conceptual framework is a useful resource for those advocating for the value of older people participating in the arts. Key factors raised across the literature are discussed along with avenues for future research. Ultimately, the potential for participatory arts in reducing loneliness and social isolation is evident, but this potential needs further investigation and promotion to make a real difference.


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