Generativity in Creative Storytelling: Evidence From a Dementia Care Community

The Gerontological Society of America | January 22, 2020

Background and Objectives: Creative group storytelling as utilized in TimeSlips is a social activity that focuses on communication, improvisation, and creativity among its participants with dementia. A collective narrative is a channel through which participants express themselves, and it thus signifies clues about their identities, values, and experiences. No study to date, however, has examined the contents of the stories. Using the generativity model as a theoretical underpinning for analysis, this paper examines the emergent themes of such collective stories.
Research Design and Methods: This study used the data collected in a memory care community where a research team recruited and engaged 21 out of approximately 80 residents with dementia in 6 weekly creative storytelling sessions; 4 small groups of 4 to 6 participants created a total of 24 collective stories. Three researchers analyzed these stories by open-coding emergent themes. Once coded manually, the narratives were managed and analyzed in NVivo.
Results: Consistent with the concept of generativity, a thematic analysis of collective narratives revealed various aspects of participants’ generative concerns. Three themes related to generativity: (1) caring and promoting the well-being of others, (2) family values, and (3) positivity.
Discussion and Implications: The narratives show that participants living with dementia continue to express their generative values and concerns. The findings reveal generative identities held by persons living with dementia, which help destigmatize dementia. The findings also shed light on why creative group storytelling may affect multiple positive outcomes for its participants.