Opinion | This Conversation Changed the Way I Think About Dementia

Hosted by Lulu Garcia-Navarro

Produced by Sophia Alvarez Boyd and Rhiannon Corby

Edited by Anabel Bacon and Kaari Pitkin

Engineered by Carole Sabouraud and Isaac Jones

Original music by Isaac Jones, Sonia Herrero, Pat McCusker and Carole Sabouraud

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I’ve seen and experienced the toll dementia takes on a loved one. And I’m far from alone: One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. But the symptoms and decline usually happen in private, which can make figuring out a way to live with the illness isolating and frustrating — both for people with dementia and the people who care for them.

Thirty years ago, the artist Anne Basting saw the limitations of our standard ways of caregiving while she was volunteering at a locked Alzheimer’s unit, and she wanted to do something about it. So she came up with a more creative approach to communication, hoping to provide people with dementia new possibilities to engage with their environment, and with other people. Since then, her work has earned her a MacArthur fellowship, and opened up new ways of thinking about communicating across cognitive decline.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…UWM Photo services

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“First Person” was produced this week by Sophia Alvarez Boyd and Rhiannon Corby. It was edited by Anabel Bacon and Kaari Pitkin. Mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Isaac Jones. Original music by Isaac Jones, Sonia Herrero, Pat McCusker and Carole Sabouraud. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker. The rest of the “First Person” team includes Stephanie Joyce, Olivia Natt, Wyatt Orme, Derek Arthur and Jillian Weinberger. Special thanks to Kristina Samulewski, Shannon Busta, Allison Benedikt, Annie-Rose Strasser and Katie Kingsbury.