Creative storytelling through TimeSlips

Anna Kozlowska, a master of social service intern at the Penn Memory Center, held up a picture in front of her camera. The picture showed a young woman playing the guitar on a park bench. She posed simple questions to her audience of 10—Who is the young woman? Why was she there? What was she doing?

Abstract watercolor of a person playing guitar on a bench.

An hour later, the young guitarist’s story had been told by the participants: She was a musician who missed her husband while he was away at war; she was singing a song about the beauty of nature; she was someone who loved making music.

“It’s kind of like making a necklace from beads,” Kozlowska says. “We kind of string our thoughts and feelings together, and we read as it goes.”

This was the first session of TimeSlips, a new program offered by the Penn Memory Center. Originally created by MacArthur fellow Anne Basting, TimeSlips is a movement that aims to bring purpose through creative engagement for older individuals.

“The idea of this program is that you don’t want to rely on memory,” Kozlowska says. “That’s always a challenge for people who have memory loss. So, when you relieve them of the pressure to remembering things, you encourage them to just imagine things, respond to the picture, and respond to each other.”

Read more at Penn Memory Center.