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Connecting With Older Adults Through Creative And Virtual Activities

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Some older adults and senior care facilities have been impacted by social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The stay-at-home order has been hard on everyone, but it has added stress for older Americans. For people living in retirement communities, the COVID-19 pandemic is especially concerning. Older people are the most at risk of dying from the disease, but they’re also a community at high risk of social isolation.

Anne Basting has spent much of her adult life working to engage older adults in the arts. She’s a gerontologist and the founder of TimeSlips, an organization that uses artistic expression to connect with older people. She says right now is a perfect time to connect with older people through the arts and creative activities. 

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She has been posing short, open-ended questions to people online. These short prompts encourage people to imagine where they would want to fly if they had wings or to think about their favorite smells. 

"It doesn't have to be a novel or a full-blown dance routine. It can be very, very simple, as a way to invite people into expression and into a creative moment together where you can laugh and enjoy the act of creation," Basting explains.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.