Blog

Get Engaged! Introducing the TimeSlips Engagement Parties

Nov 12, 2020

It’s February in Michigan, and I’ve arrived incredibly early for a gathering at the home of a caregiver in a suburb of Detroit. After a while, she sees me waiting in my car and waves at me from her porch, inviting me in.

There is plenty of snow and ice on the ground, so as I make my way up the driveway, I am forced to do the duck walk—the one where you tread carefully to avoid a fall. Soon enough, I’ve made it safely inside and am immediately offered food. It’s far too much, but I graciously accept a plate and wait for the other guests to arrive.

Before long, the host and I are joined by her friends and family members, and we get to the real reason I am there—to lead them through a new TimeSlips program being piloted in southeast Michigan called an Engagement Party, designed to introduce guests to creative engagement. The party is a success, and after we socialize a little more, it is soon time for me to go. Before I do, I take another plate of leftovers with me that I’m not allowed to refuse.

***

Fast forward just a few weeks. The snow has now gone, and it’s a beautiful early spring day. I’m now at a lively community center for older adults in metro Detroit, where I wait in the performance hall for a group of caregivers to join me for another Engagement Party.

This group is smaller than the last, but the same sense of excitement emerges as we dive deeper into our conversation about how to use creativity as a way to engage with friends and family members living with memory loss. Before I leave, an attendee tells me she can’t wait to go home and try out some of the techniques with her mother.

***

A few days later, a stay-at-home order is issued for Michigan due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the state. As a result, remaining in-person Engagement Parties scheduled for later in the Spring were postponed indefinitely. 

In this strange moment, we were given an incredible opportunity to practice one of the TimeSlips core concepts, “Yes, and…”—something that is also a vital component of the Engagement Party program itself. When faced with the fact that we were not able to plan any in-person sessions for the foreseeable future, we leaned into the moment, accepted our new reality, and made a plan to continue to offer Engagement Parties as virtual gatherings or sessions delivered entirely by phone.

Our partners at the Greater Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association were also meeting the moment head-on, supporting their caregiver support groups as they transitioned to remote meetings. Before long, requests for virtual Engagement Party sessions from these groups were coming in fast. Over the next few months, we were able to continue doing what TimeSlips has been doing for over 20 years: encouraging and supporting care partners to replace the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine, bringing meaning and purpose into the lives of older adults through creative engagement. These virtual sessions may have lacked the excellent food shared at some of the in-person sessions, but the joy and freedom of creative engagement remained.

And now the time has come to share these new resources with the world. Later this month, we will launch a new section of our website with free resources available to friends and family caregivers to encourage them to weave creative engagement into their lives. This includes a brand-new training module for friends and family members of people living with memory loss, and downloadable resources for anyone who wants to host their very own Engagement Party, either in-person or as a virtual gathering.

If you want to learn more about these new resources, I invite you to join us on Thursday, November 19th, from 1-2 pm CT/2-3 pm ET for the final webinar as part of the 2020 Creative Care Fall Festival: Get Engaged! Introducing the TimeSlips Engagement Parties. You can register at https://tinyurl.com/ccff-getengaged

I hope to see you there.

Andrew Morton
Project Manager & TimeSlips Master Trainer