Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spotlight on Supporting Elders: Facilitating Artistic Expression

Alla Malova, an Elder Economic Security Initiative Intern, wraps up her two-part series on emotional support for elders.

Old age, especially when combined with poverty, is associated with a painful stigma in American society. As such, many seniors tend to refuse help when it is offered, fearing they would be a burden to others. This may be an obstacle for programs that seek to help elders. One way to support these seniors emotionally is to provide them with an opportunity for artistic self-expression. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Division of Adult and Career Education offers “Commercial Acting for Older Adults” acting classes; registration is free for seniors age 62 and older.

Each week, the aspiring actors and actresses read commercial scripts on camera, as they would during an actual audition. The instructor coaches seniors beyond any shyness or awkwardness, while helping them to project their unique character. Notably, acting classes give participating seniors not only a chance to explore their personality, but also to jump start an actual acting career.

This program helps seniors on many levels. First of all, artistic self-expression can be used as a form of art therapy to help elders fight their emotional vulnerability. Acting classes help elders build their confidence, which also contributes to improving their emotional well-being. Moreover, the program creates an additional opportunity for seniors to get together and communicate. And finally, training in commercial acting may help seniors gain an actual source of income, proving that personal, emotional self-improvement at the individual level can lead to achieving economic self-sufficiency.

For more information about Commercial Acting for Older Adults, click here to read an article from the Larchmont Chronicle.

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