Susan McFadden, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita

Office: CLOW F028

Susan McFadden, Professor Emerita of Psychology, taught at UW Oshkosh from 1985 to 2012. Since retiring, she has continued to work with faculty colleagues, undergraduates, and graduate students on research related to dementia.  She has written about some of this work in “white papers” that are meant to be widely shared with the public.

In 2011, she helped to establish the Fox Valley Memory Project (FVMP;, an organization that offers programs and services for people living with dementia.  She continues to be very involved with its activities.  For example, she and her husband facilitate one of the seven monthly FVMP Memory Cafes.  Memory Cafes offer two hours of enjoyable stigma-free social connection for people with dementia and their care partners.  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.

Dr. McFadden taught high school psychology in 1971-72 while working on her Master’s degree at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA) where she also earned the BA in Psychology in 1970.  After getting the MS in Experimental Psychology, she taught at a large community college in New Jersey before moving to Wisconsin in 1983.  Her doctoral work in Psychology and Religion (Drew University, Madison, NJ) focused on older adults and she has published numerous works on religion, spirituality, and aging.

Since retiring, she’s been taking drum lessons and longs to connect with other women her age who play electric guitar and bass.  She and her husband have a cabin in the Upper Peninsula near Munising where they go for hammock-sitting, eagle-watching, kayaking, snow-shoeing, reading, and listening to all kinds of music.  A particular delight in her life is any time she can be with her two adult children, their spouses, and her two grandchildren.

White Papers


  • McFadden, S. H., & McFadden, J. T. (2011).  Aging together: Dementia, friendship, and flourishing communities.  Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • McFadden, S. H., Brennan, M., Patrick, J. H. (Eds.). (2003). New directions in the study of late life religiousness and spirituality.  New York: Haworth Press.
  • Kimble, M. A., & McFadden, S. H. (Eds.). (2003). Aging, spirituality, and religion: A handbook (Vol. 2).  Minneapolis: Fortress.
  • McFadden, S. H., & Atchley, R. A. (Eds.). (2001). Aging and the meaning of time: A multidisciplinary exploration.  New York:  Springer.
  • Magai, C. & McFadden, S. H. (Eds.). (1996). Handbook of emotion, adult development, and aging.  San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Magai, C. Z., & McFadden, S. H. (1995). The role of emotions in social and personality development:  History, theory, and research.  New York:  Plenum.
  • Kimble, M. A., McFadden, S. H., Ellor, J. W., & Seeber, J.J. (Eds.). (1995). Aging, spirituality, and religion:  A handbook.  Minneapolis:  Fortress.

Book Chapters

  • McFadden, S. H. (2015). Spirituality, religion, and aging: Clinical geropsychology and aging people’s need for meaning.  In P. A. Lichtenberg & B. T. Mast (Eds.), APA handbook of clinical geropsychology (Vol. 1; pp. 473-496).  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • McFadden, S. H., Frankowski, S., Flick, H., & Witten, T. (2013).  Resilience and multiple stigmatized identities: Lessons from transgender persons’ reflections on aging.  In J. Sinnott (Ed.), Positive psychology: Advances in understanding adult motivation (pp. 249-267).  New York: Springer Publishing Co.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2013).  Old persons, old age, aging, and religion.  In R. Paloutzian & C. Park (Eds.), Psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed., pp. 198-212).  New York: Guilford.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2011). Gathering and growing gifts through creative expression and playfulness. In Jewell, A. (Ed.), Spirituality and personhood in dementia (pp. 100-110). Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kinsley Publishers.
  • McFadden, S. H., & Ramsey, J. L. (2011).  Pastoral care and late life relationships: Nurturing imagination, hope, and love.  In I. Noth, C. Morgenthaler, & K. J. Greider (Eds.), Pastoralpsychologie und Religionspsychologie im Dialog [Pastoral psychology and psychology of religion in dialogue] (pp. 207-220).  Stuttgart:  Verlag W. Kohlhammer.
  • McFadden, S. H., & Ramsey, J. L. (2010).  Encountering the numinous: Relationality, the arts, and religion in later life.  In T. R. Cole, R. E. Ray, & R. Kastenbaum (Eds.), A guide to humanistic studies in aging: What does it mean to grow old? (pp. 163-181).  Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2007).  Religion and spirituality.  In J. E. Birren (Editor-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of gerontology: Age, aging, and the aged (2nd ed., pp. 410-417).  Oxford, England: Elsevier.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2005).  Points of connection: Gerontology and the psychology of religion.  In R. Paloutzian & C. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion (pp. 162-177).  New York: Guilford.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2004).  Spirituality and health.  In K.W. O’Neil and R. L. Peterson (Eds.), Optimal aging (pp. 824-830).  Sarasota, FL: Optimal Aging LLC.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2004).  Religious coping in later life.  In K. W. Schaie, N. Krause, & A. Booth (Eds.), Religious influences on health and well-being in the elderly (pp. 141-150).  New York: Springer Publishing.

Journal Articles

  • McFadden, S. H., & Koll, A. (2014).  Popular memory cafés in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley battle social isolation. Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging, 38(1), 68-71.
  • McFadden, S. H., & McFadden, J. T. (2013).  Living longer, often with dementia. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 93(1), 4-7.
  • Desai, A. K., & McFadden, S. H. (2013).  Reducing antipsychotic utilization in long-term care residents: Addressing psychological and spiritual needs of residents with dementia is crucial. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 14, 224-225.
  • O’Connor, M. L., & McFadden, S. H. (2012).  A Terror Management perspective on young adults’ ageism and attitudes toward dementia. Educational Gerontology38, 627-643.
  • O’Connor, M. L., & McFadden, S. H. (2010).  Development and psychometric validation of the Dementia Attitudes Scale. International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. doi:10.4061/2010/454218
  • McFadden, S. H., & Basting, A. (2010).  Healthy aging persons and their brains: Promoting resilience through creative engagement. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 26(1), 149-161.  doi:10.1016/j.cger.2009.11.004
  • McFadden, S. H., & Lunsman, M. (2010). Continuity in the midst of change:  Behaviors of residents relocated from a nursing home environment to small households. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 25, 51-57. doi:10.1177/1533317508320088.
  • McFadden, S. H., & Lunsman, M. (2009).  Arts involvement and spirituality as sources of well-being in older people. Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging, 21, 330-343.
  • McFadden, S. H., Frank, V., & Dysert, A. (2008).  Creativity in the “now” of advanced dementia: Glimpses of the lifeworld through storytelling and painting. Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts, 2, 135-149.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2008).  The “persistent problems” in the psychology of religion and aging: A view of the past and a look to the future. Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging, 20(1-2), 77-94.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2008).  Healing, health care, and spirituality. The Gerontologist, 48, 126-130.
  • McFadden, S. H. (2008). Mindfulness, vulnerability and love: Spiritual lessons from frail elders, earnest young pilgrims, and middle aged rockers.  Journal of Aging Studies, 22, 132-139.