Frequently Asked Questions


What is the benefit of Alzheimer’s Creative Storytelling facilitation?

Often people who are struggling with memory impairment are disengaged, frightened, and increasingly isolated. Participants in the storytelling event are engaged and active.  They take on the role of storyteller. They discover that they still have something of value to offer the world.  This is always a celebratory event and through the course of the session fear recedes, connections are built, and, when they identify as a storyteller, life is not as frightening.




Will this program cure Alzheimer’s Disease / dementia / memory problems?

No. This program is not intended to be a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease or for memory problems.  Please consult first with a doctor for questions relating to diagnosis and treatment.  There are many possible causes of memory deficits and medical diagnosis by qualified practioners is imperative, the earlier the better.  Treatment exists that may, in some cases, temporarily slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but this must be a discussion held between you and a doctor.

Research on the Timeslips method suggests that people with Alzheimer’s react favorably to the process and have improved self-esteem and fewer visits to doctors.  In my own practice I have noted that storytelling sessions are capable of giving people with dementia and Alzheimer’s rare moments of improved attitude, pride, and ability to communicate comfortably with fellow storytellers and caregivers. However positive the storytelling process is, it is not a cure, nor does it replace medical intervention.




Can you come to my location?

Yes. In summers I am often in coastal Oregon and autumn through spring I am based in Tucson.  I am willing to travel to areas in the western states as needed.




Is this something that I can do at home?

If you would like to do try it at home the website has a free interactive storybuilding program that provides both a picture and some prompts to use with your loved one.

If you choose to have me come work with a loved one in your home I think you might find that some of the techniques will spill over into your everyday interactions.  Sometimes it is more about the words one uses that helps deflect some of the more negative interactions common in caretaking a person with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. One of the hardest parts of caring at home for a person struggling with memory issues is the caregiver’s need to reconnect with their loved one’s past. Often this becomes contentious.  Another route is to use storytelling as a vehicle to get bits of memory incorporated into a fictional piece. It allows you to see your loved one in a new light; just as they are seeing themselves as storytellers freed from the need to produce accurate memories.




How much will this cost?

My regular rate for facilitation is $50 per hour.  I will provide two demonstrations at no cost, and if we find it mutually helpful, we can discuss the possibility of doing multiple sessions at a reduced rate.  Fees, should the sessions include travel outside of the Bandon, OR and Tucson, AZ areas can be discussed and negotiated.  I would love to talk with you about the services I provide, please contact me!




Will insurance cover the cost of your intervention?

This would be something you would need to discuss with your insurance provider.  I would be happy to provide any documentation needed to assist you in exploring that option. 




Do you work with groups?

Yes, when people who have Alzheimer’s or related dementia, storytelling is often easier when there are several minds working together to create the story.  For instance a non-verbal person can usually be encouraged to hum a familiar song while others in the group know some or all of the words.  A person not used to being heard can feel validated. It offers a chance to interact in a non-threatening, playful environment while being part of producing something of meaning.




Where can I see TimeSlips™ in action?

Please visit the Timeslips website or listen to the NPR story




Is there research that shows the benefits of this kind of intervention?

There are many studies available for the layperson that speak to the efficacy of the Timeslips method.  The best list of these can be found on the TimeSlips website.




Can people who are severely disabled, or who are in the late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, benefit from this program?

Yes, it is particularly helpful in small group sessions (see above).




Can you work with people who are visually or hearing impaired?

I have experience working with both visually and hearing impaired individuals.  There are many alternatives to the standard modes of communication and expression and these can be employed along with this technique.  Music and movement, for example, are important parts of the storytelling process and these can improve participation for people with all levels of ability.




Will this intervention work with images other than the ones you use?

Photographs should have some sort of movement or some unusual interaction to get the best reactions from storytellers.  Pictures are the catalysts for creative storytelling and should not be photographs from the participant’s past used as a vehicle to elicit memories.  The emphasis is on fictional stories because what hurts is the inablility to remember.

About Jenny Cowell

Jenny Cowell has written 127 posts in this blog.

Jenny Cowell is a lifelong educator who started her career in Special Education and retired as a junior high librarian. She builds stories with people with Alzheimers and related dementia using the TimeSlips method. Jenny works with individuals in their homes and in day programs in memory care facilities.