Park Crescent is celebrating National Skilled Nursing Care Week with tributes to life’s significant stories. Every individual has a story to share, and that’s especially so in skilled nursing. Seniors have lived through important personal and historical events, and those episodes have shaped their lives and perspectives forever.
Everyone has a personal narrative that has contributed to the unique person they are today. This week, let’s listen to the people around us. Let’s really hear and celebrate their stories. And of course, don’t forget to share your own. Telling and listening to personal stories actually can benefit your health and your brain.
Storytelling Offers Both Psychological and Physiological Benefits
When you really listen and understand another person, you give them psychological air. Listen with your eyes—make frequent eye contact with the storyteller and avoid glancing at your phone or watch. When you really listen to other people, they feel respected and understood. Especially when listening to elderly people, show them you’re interested in what they have to say.
Some studies have pointed to reminiscence therapy as an effective treatment for dementia patients. Therapists old photographs, paintings, music, or objects to give patients with Alzheimer’s disease a sense of belonging and peace. For patients who can no longer communicate, reminiscing with objects restores their self-image to some degree. But even seniors who don’t have dementia can benefit from sharing their memories. Research shows storytelling can improve cognitive function and mood in people of all ages.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Listening to a moving or inspirational story can actually prompt your brain to release oxytocin. Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” is a hormone that promotes bonding between two people. When your oxytocin levels increase, you feel less stress and your body relaxes. This lowers your blood pressure, may ease gastrointestinal distress, and possibly even suppress inflammation. You can get all those benefits from listening to a story!