Sharing stories helps couples facing dementia.

The patient diagnosed with dementia is not the only one affected. Their partner shares the burden as well. The New York Times reports one way people can cope is by sharing stories.

An eight week storytelling workshop at Northwestern University is helping couples facing dementia. Each week, the couples are assigned a specific prompt to write about their lives together. They are then able to share the story with the group. The couples involved said sharing their story reinforces their relationship as a couple, rather than just patient and caregiver.

Sheila Nicholes, whose husband Luther has vascular dementia, participated in the workshop. She says sharing their story together brought Luther back to being funny again. It gave them a way to look at and talk about where they were and where they are now. The good times these couples have shared together throughout the years are easily forgotten when faced with a disease like dementia.

Social worker, Laura Dowden, is the creator of this workshop. She recalled the laughter and joy filling the room during the storytelling sessions. Precious moments of connection were seen when one of them revealed something the other didn’t know.

In order to write and share these unique life stories, the couples have to collaborate. This helps them work together in new ways and make adjustments. As Laura Dowden says,

 “…they’ll have to make thousands and thousands of adjustments throughout the course of the disease.”

This workshop provided connection and purpose in the moment. It gave couples hope for their future together while facing this life-changing disease.