Storytelling program improves lives of people with Alzheimer's

Feb 25, 2011
"The boy is walking through the lights..." is a photo used to spur discussion during storytelling sessions. Credit: The Timeslips Project The Center on Age & Community

Nearly 16 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Symptoms include mood and behavior changes, disorientation, memory loss and difficulty walking and speaking. The effects of anti-dementia drugs on patients' emotions and behaviors are inconsistent. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that participation in TimeSlips, a drug-free, creative storytelling intervention, improves communication skills and positive affect in persons with dementia.

TimeSlips is a nationally recognized storytelling program for people with dementia that encourages participants to use their imaginations to create short stories as a group.

Rather than relying on factual recall, participants respond verbally to humorous images presented by facilitators who record the responses and read narratives to further develop or end the stories.

"TimeSlips provides rich, engaging opportunities for persons with dementia to interact with others while exercising their individual strengths," said Lorraine Phillips, assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing. "It encourages participants to be actively involved and to experience moments of recognition, creation and celebration. Meaningful activities, such as TimeSlips, promote positive social environments that are central to person-centered care."

This is a sample image from TimeSlips. For more images and stories, visit: http://www.timeslips.org/stories.htm. Credit: The Timeslips Project The Center on Age & Community

The storytelling program is an easy and affordable activity for long-term care facilities to implement and allows caregivers to interact with multiple residents at a time, Phillips said.

"TimeSlips offers a stimulating alternative to typical activities in long-term care facilities," Phillips said. "It is an effective and simple option for care providers, especially those who lack resources or skills required for art, music or other creative interventions."

In the study, Phillips and her colleagues delivered the TimeSlips intervention in one-hour sessions, held twice weekly for six consecutive weeks. The results included increased expressions of pleasure and initiation of social communication.

Improvements in participants' affect lasted several weeks following the final session. The intervention is acceptable for people with mild to moderate , Phillips said.

Explore further: The 'hidden injury' in sports: research sheds light on concussions

More information: The study, "Effects of a Creative Expression Intervention on Emotions, Communication, and Quality of Life in Persons with Dementia" was published in Nursing Research.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers find parental dementia may lead

Feb 19, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia perform less well on formal memory testing when compared to people of the same age whose parents never developed Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. ...

Hypnosis shown to reduce symptoms of dementia

Jul 28, 2008

A scientist at the University of Liverpool has found that hypnosis can slow down the impacts of dementia and improve quality of life for those living with the condition.

Rapid weight loss may herald Alzheimer's

Sep 12, 2006

U.S. researchers say the slow, steady weight loss associated with aging may speed up prior to the onset of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

Recommended for you

Dirty water raising health risk in flooded Kashmir

42 minutes ago

The floodwaters are finally receding in much of Kashmir, but health experts worry a crisis could be looming with countless bloated livestock floating across the waterlogged region and hundreds of thousands ...

Smoking rates on the rise in New York City

12 hours ago

For the first time in years, more than 1 million New Yorkers are smoking, marking a disturbing rise of tobacco use in the city that pioneered a number of anti-smoking initiatives that were emulated nationally.

User comments : 0