A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient pioneers a radical change in how we interact with our older loved ones, especially those experiencing dementia, as she introduces a proven drug-free method that uses the creative arts to bring light and joy to the lives of elders.
Today’s elderly—especially those experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s—are often isolated in nursing homes or segregated in elder care facilities, making the final years of life feel lonely and devoid of meaning. To alleviate elders’ sense of aloneness, Dr. Anne Basting has developed a radical approach that combines theater and improvisation methods with medically supported therapies to help them get in touch with their own creativity and become more engaged with their families and communities.
Basting understands that trying to talk with those for whom the past and present are often mixed can be frustrating for both the elder as well as caregiversand family members. But there is way to pleasurably engage with them—imagination and creativity can help bridge the communications void and bring loved ones back to one another.
Basting has developed creative techniques, rooted in twenty-five years of research, that draw on core exercises from theater—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 absolutely “correct.” Basting’s years of research have 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.
In Creative Care, 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 new ways and satisfying ways.
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.