The Power of Storytelling for People with Dementia

Often overlooked, the age-old practice of storytelling offers a heap of benefits for people with dementia. So, if your loved one is experiencing memory difficulties, here’s how storytelling could make a world of difference.

Building Connection

Storytelling can foster a deep emotional connection. When a loved one living with dementia shares their stories, it gives us a glimpse into their life and history. This shared experience not only helps us understand their world, but also helps them feel seen, heard, valued, and loved. Even if the details are only partially accurate, it’s the interaction that really matters. So, if your loved one is feeling talkative, embrace the moment and use it to connect with them and celebrate their life.

Stimulating Memory

Did you know that storytelling can help stimulate your older loved one’s memory? The way our memory functions is not fully understood. But researchers believe memories could be stored along a series of pathways in our brains. The more we access these memories, the stronger the pathways become. And memories are often ‘attached’ to other memories via these pathways. For example, if your loved one recalls their favourite meal as a child, they might find it easier to remember who cooked it for them, or how it was made.

By encouraging your loved one to recount past experiences through storytelling, you’re helping them activate and strengthen these memory pathways. And in turn, they may be able to unlock other unexpected memories. So, how do you help your loved one access these memories? A flick through a photo album or listening to familiar music might do the trick. Just remember, it’s not about testing the accuracy of their memories. Instead, it’s about creating a safe space for them to access and explore their mind.

Encouraging Expression

For some people living with dementia, finding the ‘right’ words to convey their feelings can be challenging. Storytelling offers an alternative form of communication, reducing the pressure to find specific words, and instead encouraging your loved one to speak through narratives and even non-verbal cues. For example, storytelling could take the form of a piece of artwork, a photo collage, or a musical melody. Allowing your loved one to express themselves however they feel comfortable can provide empowerment, and offer an insight into their feelings, perspectives and needs.

Do you have a loved one with dementia who could use some extra care? Here at Simply Helping, we offer a full range of home care services for older adults, including people living with dementia. Click here to learn more and contact us today!

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