A moving and honest book, Creative Care delves into the complex world of how we care for our elders in our modern society, and suggests a revolutionary new way to engage and bring joy to those living with all forms of dementia. 

Anne Basting is a leader in transforming aging and elder care and is also the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. She is the founder of the non-profit organisation TimeSlips, which implements her innovative approach to memory care and has practitioners all over the world. In Creative Care she suggests that the way that our older generations typically end their days – 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 this loneliness Basting has developed a radical approach that combines methods from the world of theatre and improvisation with evidence-based therapies that connect people using their own creativity and imagination.  

At the core of the method are techniques such as ‘beautiful questions’, which encourages conversation through queries that have no right or wrong answers, such as, ‘What gift would you leave to the next generation?’ or ‘What is the most beautiful sound in your home?’. This approach encourages 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 both stimulate the brain and awaken the imagination to add wonder and awe to patients’ daily lives. It provides them with a means of connection, both with the world and with those caring for them. 

The approach has won praise from doctors and caregivers worldwide. Jason Karlawish, the co-director of the Penn Memory Center, said ‘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.’ 

You can find out more about the organisation TimeSlips here.