Anne Basting, Founder & President of TimeSlips Creative Storytelling
Anne Basting shares her work at the intersection of art and caregiving in her role as Founder & President of TimeSlips Creative Storytelling and Professor of Theatre at Peck School of the Arts. For nearly two decades she has researched and created methods for integrating arts and aging to promote better long-term care for the elderly.
When it comes to growing older, what do you think Americans care about most?
A: We strive for agency–that we continue to shape the course of our own lives and the world around us. We strive for illness to be brief–what they call “compression of morbidity.” We strive for our lives to have meaning and purpose.
If you could change one thing about aging in America, what would it be?
A: Actually, I would shift us to a healthcare system that was built on prevention, not crisis care. Our childhoods would improve hand in hand with our later lives. Every age and stage of our lives are linked. More childhood education and better childhood diets reduces the rates of dementia in later life.
What aspect of your work makes you feel the most optimistic?
A: At TimeSlips, we’ve started training Creative Communities of Care–organizations that offer culture making and meaningful engagement and growth for residents, staff and families in partnership with their extended communities. This approach is transformative, connecting generations and cultures in really interesting programming that eschews stigma.
I’m also filled with hope with the movement toward intergenerational living. In Milwaukee, we’ve run a program for five years now that places student artists in care homes for year-long residencies. The depth of friendships and complexity and beauty of the art-making have been astonishing.
What keeps you up at night?
A: That we’ve done such a terrible job encouraging people to go into aging care as a field in all professions. We have a workforce crisis and yet we continue to glamorize youth, and mock, deny, and stigmatize aging and undervalue aging care. We pay everyone in the field, from doctors to social workers to direct care providers less than those who care for younger people. What are we thinking?
What led you to work in aging/the longevity market? How did you get started in the field?
A: I was close to older people when I was younger. It grew increasingly clear to me that the separation between generations and the care and treatment of older people in long-term care was not just absurd, but violated basic human rights. The over-medicalization of aging had justified their isolation and stripping away of anything but basic physical care. They could get pills aplenty, but not meaningful engagement with other human beings. I realized quickly that my skills as an artist could be part of changing those conditions.