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Creative Frailty

Posted on Wednesday 16th May 2018 by Paul Crawford

The British Geriatrics Society (2014) state, ‘Older people are the main users of health and social care services; approximately 10 per cent of people aged over 65, and 25 to 50 per cent of those aged over 85, are living with frailty. Research suggests that only half of older people with frailty syndromes receive effective health care interventions.

The perception is that ‘frail’ individuals are older people who are highly vulnerable and dependent, and quite possibly, but not necessarily, experiencing the burdens of disability or other acute or chronic physical or mental health challenges. 

Perhaps it is timely to counter the perception of vulnerability and dependency in this population and explore their creative resilience in living alone or with spouses and partners in community settings. 

We know from an ever-deepening evidence base in the field of health humanities of the health and wellbeing benefits of numerous creative practices, for example in the visual arts, music, dance, and so on, but we know much less about how these already feature in the lives of people experiencing frailty in community settings; nor do we know enough about how to increase the positive impact of such creativity in the context of underfunding and social indifference. 

As such, it would be good to see new initiatives in ‘creative frailty’, which I define as creativity informed by and expressed in frailty; creative activities which counter and transcend deficit frames for vulnerability and dependency among older adults deemed frail.



British Geriatrics Society (2014)

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council
  • The  institue of mental health nottingham
  • National Institute of Health
  • Centre for Advanced Studies
  • The University of Nottingham United Kingdom China Malaysia
  • De Montfort University Leicester
  • OPPNET Basic Behaviour & Social Science Opportunity Network