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Singing and Science Promote Aging Creatively

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Retired Chair Sandra Crouse Quinn in front of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Sandra Crouse Quinn, former professor and chair of the Department of Family Science, is a long-time singer and advocate for the arts. She also happens to be a renowned researcher. Combining her love of both worlds is key to keeping her active during her recent retirement. Sandra applies her public health lens to all she does, and she especially loves singing with local choral groups. 

Back in 2014, during a particularly busy time at work, Sandra very intentionally carved out time for herself and experienced the joy of singing with Encore Creativity for Older Adults. She says that she would work long days and somehow manage to take the subway into Washington D.C. and then walk the distance to the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center for rehearsal. During rehearsals, she says that, “all I could focus on was my music and the conductor. It taught me so much, to just be in the moment.” She shares that her mood improved and she had much more energy, and, “those things have stayed with me the whole time I have been singing with Encore.”

It taught me so much, to just be in the moment. Those things have stayed with me the whole time I have been singing with Encore.

Encore Creativity is the nation’s largest choral arts organization for adults 55 and over. This fall, Encore has 1,506 singers in four distinct musical programs across six states and the District. Its mission is “to create meaningful arts experiences supporting lifelong learning, wellness, and fun for older adults.” Its Dr. Gene Cohen Arts & Health award recognizes those who have furthered the link between health, wellness and creativity that inspired the Encore Creativity dream. The award is both named for and honors the renowned gerontologist and geriatric psychiatrist Gene Cohen. This award searches for people who are not only deserving recipients, but who are true visionaries in the relationship between wellness and the arts and the benefits of aging creatively. Sandra is just such a visionary.

She embodies Gene Cohen’s passion for the intersection of wellness and the arts. Having dedicated much of her work to the engagement of minority and marginalized communities in research, she and Dr. Cohen share the distinction of being “renaissance thinkers” who are ahead of their time. Dr. Wendy Miller, presenter of the award and wife of the late Dr. Cohen, describes Sandra as “an active and devoted singer” who “steered Encore with steady hands through the pandemic as Chair of the Encore Creativity Covid Task Force amidst a national health crisis.”

Sandra's years of expertise and professionalism are an incredible gift.

Sandra Crouse Quinn receives an award from Dr. Wendy Miller

As head of the Research and Brain Health committee, Sandra is actively involved in the efforts to make Encore Creativity a thought leader in the field of creative aging. She challenges us to think about aging in a new way, to enhance health and well-being and “make a difference for all older adults throughout the nation.” Wendy says that Sandra’s, “years of expertise and professionalism are an incredible gift. Like Gene Cohen, her efforts in the scientific community have helped to build an accessible arts community that supports the health and wellness of all older adults, with arts and healthcare for the future of our communities.” 

Sandra’s love for the arts is expressed not only through song, but also cooking, gardening, and photography. She also continues to conduct research. In collaboration with other scientists, she is laying out an agenda that looks at physical, mental and brain health, the impact of loneliness and social connection and how to most effectively promote overall health and well-being in older adults. Despite her retirement, Sandra is continuously expanding herself, always asking the most important question of all: how can she best help others?

Sandra Crouse Quinn gives an acceptance speeh
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