Alzheimer’s is a Humanitarian Crisis. It Needs a Human Response.

Alzheimer’s is a Humanitarian Crisis. It Needs a Human Response.

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Thursday, June 10th, 2021
5:30pm PST

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Guest: Anne Basting, PhD Author and Dr. Jason Karlawish, MD, Co-Director Penn Memory Center

Host: Rachael Friedman, Psy.D

Alzheimer’s is a Humanitarian Crisis. It Needs a Human Response. A dialogue with Jason Karlawish, MD and Anne Basting, PhD

The FDA is considering whether to approve aducanumab, Biogen’s drug for Alzheimer’s disease. The five million persons diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, and the millions more who worry about becoming one of the diagnosed, eagerly await the agency’s decision. But even if approved, this breakthrough won’t be enough. Even the most optimistic take on Biogen’s data show the drug slows, not halts, and certainly does not cure the disease. Moreover, short of cures for each and every disease that causes older adults to suffer disabling cognitive problems, we simply can’t drug our way out of the enormous and complicated problem of dementia.

 We posit that a crisis that strikes at our ability to express and experience our full humanity demands a human response. America needs to invest in the growing number of social programs that invite and support human expression and connection – through music, storytelling, movement and art.

Although the evidence to support such programs will never reach the scale of drug research, these programs have a growing evidence base that show a wide range of positive benefits. And they are virtually without side effects. They are essential to human flourishing, and we discuss a recent National Academy of Medicine report that supports their dissemination and implementation.

It is time that doctors in the United States prescribe these programs, and that our healthcare system recognize and value them with the same support given to therapies like aducanumab. Models exist such as in the UK and Canada that for several years have offered “social prescribing.”

More about Dr. Jason Karlawish and Dr. Anne Basting

Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, is a leading researcher of the ethical and policy issues encountered by persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and author of The Problem of Alzheimer’s: How Science, Culture and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It.

Dr. Anne Basting is professor of English at UW-Milwaukee and founder of, an international non-profit supporting the integration of creativity into care. Her most recent book is Creative Care: A revolutionary approach to dementia and elder care.

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Thursday, June 10th, 2021 5:30pm PST Guest: Anne Basting and Jason Karlawish Zoom

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