Cultivating a community wealthy in hope, creativity, joy, and faith. Working in a range of settings, including community organizations, care communities, and in the home. 

Kathryne Fassbender

CDCS, CDP – Gerontologist, Creative Engagement Specialist

Each day I seek to accompany others, walking the dementia journey, magnifying the importance of creativity and human connection. I am a classically trained musician, studio artist, and theatre maker, with a background in the creative arts therapies. I believe in cultivating a community that is wealthy in creativity, connection, hope, and joy. 

I am also the granddaughter of someone who lived with Vascular Dementia

20 years ago, I started my dementia journey. 

It did not come in the form of a person I love being diagnosis with a form of dementia, a job (I was, after all, a 6th grader), or via a parent’s career. It came through a comment made by a classmate in my science class.

In my 6th-grade science class, my peers started talking about dementia. At the time I had no clue what it really was, nor was I aware of anyone in my life who had dementia. I knew enough though, that when a classmate started calling it, “old timer’s disease,” that the correct behavior was to be appalled by that comment.  This launched my passion for working with dementia as a volunteer. In 2005 when my grandmother was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, the story become personal. My view of dementia as well as a greater awareness of what it means to live with dementia drastically changed. I experienced the struggles, stereotypes, shame, and the family journey. The world of dementia that I had moved into continued to grow, evolve, and transformed once again as I worked to make dementia my career recognizing that I was uniquely created for this purpose.

The Dementia Letters Project started off as a blend of Life Enrichment work, and volunteering (which at the time was named, Bonae Memorie.) In 2017, I started the shift towards working as an independent contractor, and in 2018 I officially launched the Dementia Letters Project.

Over the last 16 years I have recognized the need for those living with dementia to tell their story, and for the greater community to start having a different type of conversation. There exists a longing to move away from the doom and gloom and into joy. I started the project as a way to help all of us share our story of dementia and move into that joy. As I write the current pages of the Dementia Letters Project story, I invite you to join me, to co-create a new narrative of dementia.

Purpose: To accompany those on their dementia/aging journey by giving of my time and talent. To live in service of those who seek to live fully alive when the trials and triumphs ebb and flow. I work to do this from the lens of gerontologist, artist, curious explorer of dementia and the social, mental, and spiritual world that surrounds it.

Passions: Studio Art, Theatre, Music, Literature, Food and Cooking, Gardens, Skiing on Snow and Water, Travel, Psychology, History, and my Catholic Faith. I want to be both a passive and active participant in the creation of art, community, and study. All of these elements I bring into my work.

Research Interests: Veterans living with Dementia, Creative Arts Therapies in Care Communities, Storytelling and Play, Faith and Dementia.

Want to Partner with Dementia Letters Project?

All of us are living with dementia so follow along and join in on the conversation on social media @dementialetters or email me at KLFassbender@dementialettersproject.com

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