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Storytelling Improves Communication, Mood for Alzheimer’s

A new research effort studies a non-pharmacological approach to improving the quality of life for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease: storytelling.

University of Missouri scientists found that participation in TimeSlips, a drug-free, creative storytelling intervention, improves communication skills and positive affect in persons with dementia.

The discovery is important as 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 have been inconsistent.

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, Ph.D., 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.”

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,” she 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 dementia, Phillips said.

The study was published in Nursing Research.

Source: University of Missouri

Storytelling Improves Communication, Mood for Alzheimer’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Storytelling Improves Communication, Mood for Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/28/storytelling-improves-communication-mood-for-alzheimers/23938.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.