Debra Bachelder

Debra Bachelder
Central Region, OH
Memoir, Storytelling, Collage, Fiber Arts, Jewelry Design, Mixed Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking
Adult Day Care, After School Program, Assisted Living, College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center, Correctional Facilities, Hospice, Hospital, Independent Living, K-12 Schools, Library, Nursing Home, Senior Center

Debra Fink Bachelder, MS, is a Gerontologist and Artist. She develops, facilitates, and evaluates age-appropriate art experiences supporting the psycho-social and physiological needs of patients and their families; community based inter-generational, visual arts programs; and professional development workshops at medical schools; hospitals, therapeutic and other healthcare facilities; alternative schools, libraries, museums, and arts centers. Debra trained at The Creative Center’s Creative Aging Institute; is a facilitator of Opening Minds through Art (trained to establish participatory arts program for people with dementia), and TimeSlips; and through the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the Ohio State Based Collaborative Initiative-Partners in Education program, a Master Instructional Artist and a Peer Teaching Artist Coach (qualified to evaluate and mentor other teaching artists). Debra has successfully founded several arts programs for vulnerable populations in her community including heART Bridges™ an inter-generational arts program for at risk youth and community elders. She serves on The Tomorrow Center’s Advisory Council, The Ohio State University Medical School’s Medicine in the Arts Round-table, and has addressed the Fifth International Conference on Aging and Society, presenting “Non-pharmacological Arts Interventions for an Aging Society or Make Two Paintings and Call Me in the Morning.”

The national trend is to age in place contributing to NORCs or naturally occurring retirement communities. The consequences to medical progress contributing to longevity is, typically, years of chronic illness and debility.1 Research is finally validating what professional artists in healthcare have known for years: that arts participation is effective for people diagnosed with chronic degenerative diseases with risk factors that are known to increase with aging. Several studies show that art can reduce the depression and anxiety that are often symptomatic of chronic diseases. Other research demonstrates that the imagination and creativity of older adults can flourish in later life, helping them to realize unique, unlived potentials, even when suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease2 while managing negative behaviors that cause additional stress and burden upon their caregivers which also creates a need for therapeutic programs close to home. To improve the lives of our aging, population we should be turning to the arts in the form of engaging, evidenced based, cost effective, nonpharmalogical interventions. I firmly believe that a thoughtfully developed, inclusive arts program is a way to provide innovative care to seniors and vulnerable individuals, enabling them to live healthier and more satisfying lives in their own communities--for as long as possible. 1Hardwig, J. (2006). Medicalization in death. APA Newsletter, 6, (1), 2-9. 2 Bagan, B. (2014). Aging: What’s art got to do with it? Today’s Geriatric Medicine. Retrieved from