Learn how to use the arts to ease dementia

Anne Basting, Ph.D.

One of the most terrifying aspects of dementia, which plagues 47 million people around the world, is memory loss. Cultural critic and playwright Anne Basting, Ph.D., has a suggestion: Forget memory.

Instead, she emphasizes the importance of activities that focus on the present to improve the lives of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Based on 10 years of practice and research in the field, Basting’s study includes specific examples of innovative programs that stimulate growth, humor, and emotional connection; translates into accessible language a wide range of provocative academic works on memory; and addresses how advances in medical research and clinical practice are already pushing radical changes in care for persons with dementia.

For her work, Basting was named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. She also is the recipient of an Ashoka Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, a Brookdale National Fellowship, and numerous major grants. She will bring her expertise to the DMU campus on Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. as part of the Embrace Aging series, brought to you by Calvin Community Foundation and DMU with special thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association, Arbor Springs, Broadlawns Geriatric and Memory Center, the Hale Group, Syverson Strege & Company, and Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

Continuing medical education credit is available. The event is free and open to the public; no registration is required. Basting’s talk will take place in the University’s Student Education Center Auditorium and also can be viewed online.

Basting is author of numerous articles and two books, Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia and The Stages of Age: Performing Age in Contemporary American Culture. She is author and/or producer of nearly a dozen plays and public performances, including Slightly Bigger Women (2015) and Finding Penelope (2011), a play inspired by a year of intergenerational conversations about the myth of Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey, and professionally staged at a long term care facility.

Basting also is the founder and director of TimeSlips, an evidence-based, award-winning program that incorporates playful, imagination-based storytelling and creativity to improves well being of individuals in their homes, care communities, senior centers and other environments.