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'Today' show to feature Tosa dementia program

Nov. 23, 2011

A storytelling program for older adults at Luther Manor's Adult Day Center is scheduled to be featured Friday during the 8 a.m. hour on NBC-TV's "Today" show.

The "Today" show airs locally on WTMJ-TV (Channel 4).

The program, called TimeSlips, "helps people with dementia reaffirm their humanity and connect with staff members, family and friends," said a statement released Wednesday by Luther Manor in Wauwatosa.

Luther Manor was among the founding sites for TimeSlips in 1998.

The "Today" show segment was filmed Oct. 12 and involved about a dozen Adult Day Center participants.

"It's great that TimeSlips is getting the national attention it deserves," said Dawn Adler, a Luther Manor staff member. "The program brings joy to the participants and their families by providing a new way to connect."

Beth Meyer-Arnold, director of Adult Day Services, said the "Today" show staff spent parts of two days at the center in mid-October. The reporter for the story was Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush.

Meyer-Arnold said Jenna Bush Hager "was very relaxed, very sharing," and told the staff about her maternal grandfather's struggle with dementia. Laura Bush's late father, Harold Welch, had Alzheimer's disease.

Meyer-Arnold said she is hopeful that the segment will present a realistic portrayal of the storytelling program and its ability to bring joy to those with dementia. TimeSlips was created by Anne Basting, director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center on Age and Community.

During the sessions, participants gather in a circle and create a story from a photo.

"Whatever they say gets added to the story," Meyer-Arnold said. "There is no right or wrong answer. We also don't lead the story so that it has a beginning, middle and end. They can take the story wherever they want to take it. It allows them to be an artist, be a storyteller again. It allows them be a platform to be funny, to say something, and they don't have to worry about whether the words are right."

Meyer-Arnold said she also hopes that viewers also pay close attention to the staff in hopes that others are inspired to enter the field of long-term care.

"We need to keep the field fresh with young, creative and really smart people," she said.

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