Telling more than a story

Dementia patients, much like everyone else, don’t want to be told “no.”

A storytelling program called TimeSlips, where anything goes, can open up a new world for those with dementia.

The program was held for several years at the Iowa Veterans Home and retired nurses Kathy Drey and Cindy Zahnd brought it to Bickford Cottage Friday.

The duo showed a group of eight Bickford residents a picture then the residents took off on a story they told together from using their own imaginations. The activity got all of the of participants talking, laughing and interested in where the story would go next.

Drey and Zahnd saw the impact of the program for four years while at IVH.

“It’s really fascinating because it keeps them engaged,” Zahnd said.

The program is meant to get Alzheimer’s patients to be more outgoing without someone telling them they’re wrong.

“It is absolutely amazing what people would come up with,” Drey said.

The story groups work best with between six and eight people. When at IVH, organizers would post the story the group came up with along with the picture so family members of residents could read it.

Pressure in remembering things can weigh on a dementia patient. This type of storytelling knows no bounds or wrong answer, which can be a weight off of their shoulders.

“This takes all the pressure off of them,” said Lisa Purvis, community relations director at Bickford.

Purvis said they plan to have TimeSlips events twice a month at Bickford. There has also been interest in starting the program at other assisted living facilities in town.

An Alzheimer’s and dementia support group for caregivers meets the second Thursday of each month at Bickford. For more information call 641-753-5700.