Aging, Dementia and the Cultural Cure

There are 47 million people experiencing dementia across the world. With no cure on the horizon, Anne Basting explores the Cultural Cure – the many ways that the arts and culture can reshape the experience of memory loss to improve well-being.

Anne Basting (Ph.D.) is an educator, scholar, and artist whose work focuses on the potential for the arts and humanities to improve our quality of life as communities and individuals. For over 15 years, Basting has developed and researched methods for embedding the arts into long-term care, with a particular focus on people with cognitive disabilities like dementia.

Basting is author of numerous articles and two books, Forget Memory: Creating better lives for people with dementia (2009) and The Stages of Age: Performing Age in Contemporary American Culture. Named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Basting is also the recipient of an Ashoka Fellowship, Rockefeller Fellowship, a Brookdale National Fellowship, and numerous major grants, including the MAP Fund and NEA Artworks. 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. Her latest book –The Penelope Project: An Arts-based Odyssey to Change Elder-care (University of Iowa Press, 2016) co-edited with Maureen Towey and Ellie Rose — tells the story of that remarkable collaboration.

Basting holds a Ph.D. in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota, and a Masters in Theatre from the University of Wisconsin. She is founder and President of the award-winning non-profit TimeSlips Creative Storytelling, which brings meaning back into the lives of elders with dementia wherever they live. She is working toward a moment when the arts are an integral element in our care systems.