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How Art Engagement Benefits Older Collectors

Explore art's impact on elderly brain health from canvas to cognition.

Key points

  • Maintaining cognitive health in later life has become a pressing issue.
  • Nonpharmacological intervention to support healthy aging is desirable.
  • Arts engagement is a compelling option.

As populations globally face an increase in longevity, the challenge of maintaining cognitive health in later life has become a pressing issue. Cognitive decline affects the quality of life of older adults, not to mention the associated healthcare costs and impact on caregivers and families. Concurrently, there has been growing interest in non-pharmacological interventions that could mitigate the effects of aging on cognitive function and enhance overall well-being among the elderly.

One such promising area of intervention is arts engagement. The systematic review published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2023 provides a comprehensive analysis of how arts engagement among healthy older adults can play a pivotal role in maintaining cognitive functions while fostering social and emotional interaction.

The Study

Source: Courtesy of Thomas M. Mueller, Photography
An Older Physician with One Object from His Collection.
Source: Courtesy of Thomas M. Mueller, Photography

Initially, a total of 1,662 articles from several databases, including PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library, were examined. After removing 375 duplicates using EndNote, 1,287 articles were retrieved. These were further screened by title and abstract. Out of these, 45 articles met the inclusion criteria for full-text screening. During this stage, exclusions were made based on various factors: six articles were unobtainable, one was merely a protocol, eight were qualitative studies, six involved nontarget populations (such as those with dementia or cancer or under 18 years of age), Another six combined art therapy with unrelated activities, and eight failed to measure quality of life or cognitive outcomes quantitatively.

Additionally, twelve more studies were identified through citation searches but were also excluded for reasons documented in the study flowchart (see publication). Ultimately, ten were included in the final analysis, encompassing a total of 7,874 participants. They predominantly averaged around 70 years old, except for one study with an average participant age of over 80. These ten examinations formed the basis of the systematic review, contributing quantitative data on the effects of art engagement on cognitive and quality-of-life outcomes in the elderly.

The authors found that activities related to visual art were “an effective approach to reduce cognitive decline and improve well-being and quality of life in healthy populations.” The literary and performing arts also gleaned the same conclusion.


The systematic review published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2023 provides compelling evidence that arts engagement significantly reduces cognitive decline and enhances the quality of life among healthy older adults. Of course, art collectors are included in this population. This engagement in art can preserve and enhance cognitive functions and improve emotional and social well-being. It is a nonpharmacological intervention to support healthy aging.


Fioranelli, M., Roccia, M. G., & Garo, M. L. (2023). The role of arts engagement in reducing cognitive decline and improving quality of life in healthy older people: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 14.

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