January 30, 2014

Storytelling and Dementia

dementiastorytellingCare homes across the UK will be taking part in National Storytelling Week next week as it celebrates it’s 14th year.  Storytelling is usually associated with adults reading to children, but this rich part of our heritage has a lot to offer people of all ages.  Oral storytelling plays an important role in almost every family, culture and society.

Storytelling and Dementia

Of all of the activities for people with Dementia, storytelling is one of the most effective.  Studies have shown that storytelling can improve mood, help to calm and even increase continence in residents with Dementia.

This is a beautiful way to think of storytelling.  And storytelling doesn’t have to be a formal affair.  There are many ways to use storytelling as a way to engage and entertain people with Dementia.

  • Loved ones can retell familiar stories such as how someone met their spouse or a favourite family holiday. The idea here is not to keep prompting someone to remember the events as they happened, but simply to retell the story in the hope that it will re-ignite a feeling of happiness that is associated with the story
  • Use a structured system of prompts, such as Timeslips. Ann Basting, founder of the TimeSlips project says, “Inevitably, storytelling is about memories, but it opens the rules to include imagination and to create something new that accepts who they are and where they are in the moment. That’s a great thing for families.”
  • Include prompts. Memory boxes, old newspapers and other reminiscent objects may spark a person’s memory enough for them to begin telling a part of their own story.  Encourage this behaviour, as it is one of the strongest means of communication and self-expression that people with Dementia have.

Get Involved

For more information about how you can get involved with National Storytelling week, visit

If your care home is taking part in Storytelling week, or you are an activity planner with fun activities on your books, let us know in the comments below, or send us a tweet @recogneyesuk

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