Abstract: Community music and arts programming as a strategy for addressing age-related issues in WNC.

Western North Carolina is home to one some of the highest number of adults 65+ in the state of NC. By 2029, NC DHHS estimates these numbers to increase by 99%.

Many older adults in the Appalachian region have valuable knowledge of folkloric, natural history, ecology, musical heritage, homesteading skills, folk medicine methods and more. Could senior centers and assisted living facilities to become the epicenter of community-led multi-generational education and arts activities in the future?

Community led programs can be designed to facilitate inclusion, preserve cultural heritage, provide opportunities for purposeful living, enhance education, increase community connection and encourage health promotion among older adults and caregivers. For example, last year Ash Devine designed and implemented a community choir for older adults in WNC whom live with memory related issues. The project drew from Appalachian singing traditions and after 4 months, culminated in community performances that included caregivers, Asheville community members, family, and care-staff.

Key Points:

-Fostering an environment of inclusiveness, accessibility, engagement, reverence and purposeful living for the growing number of older adults in WNC.

-Community arts and music programs and multi-generational projects as a strategy for health promotion.

-Examples of recently implemented community-based programs in the WNC region.

-Traditional Music and arts as a bridge between older adults, youth, and the wider community.