A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient pioneers a radical change in how we interact with older loved ones, especially those experiencing dementia, as she introduces a proven method that uses the creative arts to bring light and joy to the lives of elders.
In Creative Care, Anne Basting lays the groundwork for a widespread transformation in our approach to elder care and uses compelling, touching stories to inspire and guide us all—family, friends, and health professionals—in how to connect and interact with those living with dementia.
A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Basting tells the story of how she pioneered a radical change in how we interact with our older loved ones. Now used around the world, this proven method has brought light and joy to the lives of elders—and those who care for them. Here, for the first time, everyone can learn these methods. Early in her career, Basting noticed a problem: today’s elderly—especially those experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s— are often isolated in nursing homes or segregated in elder-care settings, making the final years of life feel lonely and devoid of meaning. To alleviate their sense of aloneness, Basting developed a radical approach that combines methods from the world of theater and improvisation with evidence-based therapies that connect people using their own creativity and imagination.
Rooted in twenty-five years of research, these new techniques draw on core creative exercises—such as “Yes, and . . .” and “Beautiful Questions.” This approach fosters storytelling and active listening, allowing elders to freely share ideas and stories without worrying about getting the details “correct.” Basting’s research has shown that these practices stimulate the brain and awaken the imagination to add wonder and awe to patients’ daily lives—and provide them a means of connection, both with the world and with those caring for them. Creative Care promises to bring light and hope to a community that needs it most.
About the Author
Anne Basting, PhD, is a leader in transforming aging and elder care and the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. She is the founder of the nonprofit TimeSlips, which implements her innovative approach to memory care, and is the author of three previous academic books, The Stages of Age: Performing Age in Contemporary American Culture; Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia; and The Penelope Project: An Arts-Based Odyssey to Change Elder Care. Her work as the founding director of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Center on Age & Community was featured in the PBS documentary, The Penelope Project.
“Creative Care is a love letter to aging. Not a prescription filled with should, it’s a beautifully rendered invitation to be curious and flexible, meeting elders wherever they happen to be in the moment and making that moment richer, sweeter, and more meaningful for all.”
— Cynthia Orange, author of Take Good Care and Shock Waves
"Moving, honest, and timely, Creative Care’s inspiring stories will comfort families struggling with dementia across the world."
— Diane E. Meier MD, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and MacArthur Fellow
"Basting brings hope and meaning to millions of families living in the shadow of Alzheimer's disease. A powerful book of healing."
— R. Sean Morrison, MD, chair of the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
“Alzheimer's is devastating because it doesn't only affect the person suffering from the disease. In the face of this challenge the response from the academic and policy side has been feeble. For the first time, this book gives people hope and powerful ways to deal with its challenges.”
— Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, author of The Alzheimer’s Solution
"Invites us to shift focus from how well we remember the past to how well we inhabit the present--for ourselves and with others. Basting reveals the power of creativity to expand our humanity and enrich the time we have."
— Marie-Therese Connolly, MacArthur Fellow and senior scholar at The Wilson Center
“Upends the bleak ideas of caregiving and dementia as a disease that robs us of our humanity. Basting shows otherwise. Together–caregiver and person with dementia–can create something meaningful. Caregivers will value this; it ought to be required reading for all clinicians and policymakers.”
— Jason Karlawish, MD, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, University of Pennsylvania and author of The Disease of the Century
“Creative Care brims with essential wisdom that may forever change the way we care for one another. In these pages Basting gives readers the most precious gift of all: hope.”
— Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps
"As an artist and scholar, Basting has infused art into dementia and elder care, leveraging song, dance, improvisation, and theater to elicit communication and joy. Her ideas have spread to care centers across the country and individual families hoping to forge meaningful connections with loved ones."
— Psychology Today