Susan H. McFadden Lecture: Elders’ Pandemic Suffering and Resilience: Lessons Learned

This December, the Religious Studies Program, with the School of Nursing, the Center for Aging Research and Education (CARE), and the Center for Pre-Health Advising, welcomes Dr. Susan H. McFadden, Professor of Psychology emerita at UW Oshkosh. On Tuesday, December 6 at 4:30PM, Dr. McFadden will present the lecture “Elders’ Pandemic Suffering and Resilience: Lessons Learned,” at the DeLuca Forum in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Building. The public is cordially invited along with students, particularly those preparing for work in healthcare.

Dr. McFadden is among the preeminent researchers and advocates for elder memory care in Wisconsin and the world. Along with her books and research papers on aging, religion and community, she helped initiated the Fox Valley Memory Project (, FVMP), an organization that offers programs and services for people living with dementia.  Dr. McFadden participates in a worldwide network of people who work with people at all stages of dementia.  She is particularly interested in how engagement with various art forms can bring meaning and joy to individuals with progressive cognitive challenges as well as the roles of spirituality and community in aging and memory care.

Talk Description: Mortality among older adults during the Covid-19 pandemic far exceeded other age groups. Although various chronic diseases may have made them more susceptible to the infection, a number of socio-cultural variables contributed to the high death rate, especially among those living in congregate care settings. Nevertheless, despite the widespread suffering of elders and those who loved them, along with the documented increase in ageist attitudes during the pandemic, numerous researchers have also noted older adults’ resilience and effective coping strategies during this challenging time. In this lecture, she will elaborate on sources of pandemic suffering and contributors to pandemic resilience, focusing in particular on religious and spiritual beliefs and practices. Included in this discussion will be the experiences of persons living with dementia through the pandemic time. Finally, she will suggest how communities can use what has been learned during the pandemic to become more age- and dementia-friendly.

Religious Studies Faculty Affiliates, join Dr. McFadden for lunch at noon on December 6 (location TBD) for a conversation on current research in psychology of religion and aging. She will be speaking in RELIG ST 102: Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health and in a networking meeting with CARE associates at the School of Nursing as well.

Download the event poster as a PDF at the following link: McFadden RS Poster – Dec 2022(1)