Storytelling Helps Elders with Memory Issues
Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 8:31AM
Biff Barnes in Memory Work: Recall, Reflect, and Relive

An innovative program called TimeSlips uses creative storytelling to improve the lives of elders.

TimeSlips has had remarkable success with people suffering from memory issues by opening up storytelling to everyone and replacing the pressure to remember with creativity and the freedom to imagine.

Founded in 1996 by Ann Basting, who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2016, TimeSlips is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Focused on improving the lives of older adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia by facilitating storytelling, TimeSlips aims to improve the well-being of elders by infusing creativity into care relationships and systems.

In addition to training and coaching for elder care communities, TimeSlips offers online certification in its creative storytelling method, a program for one-on-one use, and free online creativity software.

Lisa Gwyther, co-author of Living Well After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis, described TimeSlips as, “An appealing and easy-to-use trigger for families to create together by listening to each other in new and fun ways."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that, “The TimeSlips program has had a positive impact on persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, leading to enhanced verbal skills and provider reports of positive behavioral changes, increased communication and sociability, and less confusion.”

Stories To Tell founder Nancy Barnes, who is a caregiver for her parents age 90 and 86, has observed the impact of memory issues first hand. She has successfully employed storytelling within her family and encourages others to try it.

Article originally appeared on Stories To Tell Books (
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