Gather ‘Round Fairfax! Storytelling Provides a Bridge for Seniors with Dementia

August 17, 2012

senior activitiesStorytelling is an emerging tool in innovative senior care  that offers a fun approach to care for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Many seniors regularly carry on at the local café with fellow coffee pundits or chat with friends at the beauty shop.  Sound familiar?  A growing number of home care specialists think so.  That’s why improvisational storytelling is a popular activity for senior caregiver services.  It provides an uplifting way for dementia patients to converse more frequently with loved ones and friends.  Most of all, anyone can do it!

Unleash your imagination!

Although the weekly gossip or fashionable hearsay tends to invite a good dose of scrutiny, improvisational storytelling for dementia patients is all about freedom of expression.  It’s a low-stress and therapeutic exercise to help dementia sufferers (especially incommunicative patients) engage with people and their environment.  Since participants are encouraged to “make it up as you go,” they can explore and invent stories without the anxiety of recalling their own past.

A work in progress…

Developed by the Timeslips organization, storytelling works by presenting an interesting picture to an individual or group, and posing the question, “What’s going on here?”  The story that follows often ranges from comical intrigue to sentimental insights.  It is a lighthearted and amusing exercise where everyone is free to contribute.  The key to success is that there is no pressure to remember – no anxiety about being wrong.

You can’t be wrong in storytelling…

Improvisational storytelling replaces the pressure to remember with the encouragement to imagine.  Symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often compounded by the uncertainty of social roles and personal identity.  A loved one may not always recall his or her role as father, mother, wife, or son. However, the role of storyteller provides a platform to communicate amongst friends while identifying with external characters and settings, rather than personal narratives and recollections.

As storytellers, dementia sufferers can once again take ownership of roles and identities.  This builds the confidence to interact with friends and loved ones. That’s a story worth telling!

Home Instead Caregivers are always happy to encourage storytelling with your loved one.  For more ideas and information, visit Timeslips.org.

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