6 Ways Theater Helps Senior Health

6 Ways Theater Helps Senior Health

If you’re looking for a great way to spend an afternoon or evening with your loved ones, San Diego’s famous theater, The Old Globe, is a great place to start. In addition to the fabulous shows that have gone on to Broadway and won numerous Tony Awards, there is no bad seat in the house with The Old Globe’s circular seating and excellent acoustics. Handicap access is available, and The Old Globe offers an Assistive Listening System for hearing-impaired patrons in all three theaters.

Shows at The Old Globe can be especially memorable, engaging experiences for seniors. Whether you choose Shakespeare, musicals, or drama, there are a variety of shows for everyone to enjoy at The Old Globe. You may not know that the health benefits of attending live theatre stretch far past the walk to the car and the fresh air. Live theater performances can actually help seniors lead healthier lives.


1. Theater Taps into Our Humanity:

Humans learn from and imitate each other naturally. Watching others laugh, love, fight, and resolve conflict promotes a connection amongst people and causes us to examine our own personal relationships. Many learn something about themselves from any live theater experience, as watching other navigate often provides a roadmap to complex emotions. Promote senior health by stoking their memory with emotions and stories they may relate to from their past.

“The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.” —Stella Adler


2. Feel New Emotions At The Theater:

When we watch live theater, we empathize with the emotions and experiences the characters feel, even if we haven’t personally shared the same experiences. Live theater is an opportunity to access new emotions and experience new situations through the eyes of the characters in the show. We feel as if we are a part of the story as the performers tell it on stage.

Live theater is also a way for seniors to engage with these emotions and continue to evolve and participate in complex situations. Even if someone is limited in emotional and social interactions during their daily routine, an outing at the theater creates a new adventure during the show! The sense of engagement and interaction can contribute to an improved mood and a positive outlook overall.

“You need three things in the theatre—the play, the actors and the audience, and each must give something.” —Kenneth Haigh


3. The Suspension of Disbelief:

The magic of theater is created through a shared experience with the actors. When they are really good, such as the performers at The Old Globe, the audience forgets that they are watching an act and feels as though the character is real. They form a bond with the performer and relate to them on a deeper level than on film. This can have a positive effect on seniors, as they feel social and connected during the show. They also form a bond with the rest of the audience and as they churn through these emotions together.

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” —Oscar Wilde


4. Laughter is the Best Medicine:

The benefits described above apply to all types of shows. However, comedies can possibly contribute the most to the mental and emotional health of seniors. Laughing relieves stress and boosts endorphins, which have a long-term positive effect on the immune system. Laughter also provides a temporary relief for many by taking focus off of chronic pain and health issues.


5. It’s Never Too Late to Act!

According to the National Institute on Aging, acting is beneficial for seniors by improving cognition and social engagement. Acting helps people express their emotions, does not require previous training, and increases social interactions. It is the perfect way for seniors to be social and get involved in their community, while stimulating their brain in the process. Seniors may get inspired by their trip to the theater and decide to take it a step further by joining a local acting group.


6. Theater Provides New Experiences and Expands Social Networks:

Many seniors suffer from depression and boredom due to lack of mobility and chronic health issues. The theater is perfect for a senior outing because it is easily accessible, provides an explosion of emotions with each new show, and creates a sense of camaraderie with fellow audience members.

The long-term health benefits from the emotion, empathy, adventure, and complexity that we experience at the theater are extensive. These benefits can contribute greatly to not only overall well-being and a positive outlook, but can also reduce stress and improve cognition.

The fall calendar at the Old Globe has a full act. There are matinees on the weekend at 2:00pm and multiple shows almost every night of the week. It is the perfect opportunity to do something cognitively and emotionally stimulating, social, and senior-friendly with loved ones. You may even spark some great stories after the play!


Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups has many different resources for senior health and senior care such as specialists, transportation, and support groups. Contact your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups doctors today for more information.


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