The Benefits of Storytelling for Older Adults with Dementia

The Benefits of Storytelling for Older Adults with Dementia

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



Storytelling is an age-old tradition around the world. It can also be a form of therapy for people who have dementia. There are several different types of storytelling and reminiscing, and they all provide similar benefits.

Keeps Families Connected

The benefits of storytelling extend not only to people with dementia but to caregivers and care communities, too. When people gather to create or enjoy the stories of someone’s life, they’re bonding in ways that create lasting friendships.

Eases the Transition to a New Home

Stories can be assembled on a tablet, complete with music, photos, and videos. Arriving in a new community with their story ready to go can help seniors make new friends. Other residents come to know them and caregivers are able to provide better care when they have that insight and history.

Builds Connections between Caregivers and Families

One important aspect of senior living is for families to get to know caregivers. Bonding over your loved one’s life story can help build those bridges in a fun, pleasant way.

Helps Caregivers Feel Empathy

When you know someone’s story, you naturally develop empathy for them. In a caregiving environment, this is critical.

Helps Break Down Negative Stereotypes

Negative stereotypes about older adults, especially those with dementia, may stand in the way of a senior receiving the best possible care. Storytelling can change attitudes by revealing an older adult’s personality beyond the disease. It can also help paint a picture of the senior’s life story for those who didn’t know them before the diagnosis.

The first signs of dementia are often subtle. Learn what to watch for in our free guide.

One interesting study observed the effects of using a specialized form of creative storytelling with medical students. The research project showed a significant improvement in overall attitude and comfort occurs when health care professionals use this type of storytelling.

Improves Care

Caregivers can use memories to soothe an agitated person who has dementia. Knowing that someone grew up on a farm, for example, can be very helpful during stressful moments. When signs of agitation or aggression appear, a caregiver can present images of farm life or talk about caring for farm animals. Sometimes familiar images and language can have a calming effect of people with dementia.

Builds Trust

Caregivers in senior living communities are no stranger to the benefits of storytelling and reminiscing. They know these meaningful interactions are important for the well-being of people with dementia.

When caregivers know about the backgrounds, culture, tastes, and hobbies that make someone unique, they have more of the tools they need to develop meaningful interaction. This helps them build trust with the residents in their communities.

You see, dementia often creates confusion and mistrust because it causes adults who live with it to have difficulty remembering faces and events. Hearing familiar songs or hearing someone talk about events they recognize from their past builds trust. “This person knows me” is a good feeling to have.

Decreases Depression

When people with dementia connect with others in meaningful ways, they’re less likely to suffer from depression. Part of the reason for this is that they are able to express both social communication and basic needs communication.

Recap: Storytelling, Your Loved One, and You

Stories help shed light on who people are and what their lives were like before dementia. For older adults who can’t tell their own stories, family members can help bridge this gap.

One of the most rewarding benefits of storytelling for caregivers is the chance to connect on a deeper level over topics the senior may still find easy and comforting.

Vitality Senior Living Dementia Guide

For families who are concerned a senior loved one might have dementia, our ebook may be helpful. The first signs of dementia are often subtle. Learn what to watch for in our free guide. – full of expert advice and useful topics for caregivers like you.

Download it at no cost today to learn more!

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