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Turkish Alzheimer Association presents “Tell Me a Story”

Monday 25 January 2021

“Tell Me a Story” is a project designed to improve the quality of life of people with dementia, by reducing the depressing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the difficult and isolated conditions they have to cope with. It is an endeavour that includes innovative methods of presenting fairy tales or stories, that are important building blocks of a person’s cultural values. Within the scope of the project, easy-to-access digital tools are used for storytelling, where the person with dementia watches the stories, which are recorded on five-minute-videos by volunteers, with acting and impersonating - to make the experience livelier. With the active participation of volunteers, the project also helps support public awareness of Alzheimer's disease and the needs of people with dementia.

The first audio-visual stories were recorded by the staff of the Alzheimer Dernegi (Turkish Alzheimer Association), reading and recording carefully chosen stories that are enjoyable, entertaining and joyful. These short videos were uploaded on the association's Youtube channel and a group of caregivers was invited to test the videos with their loved ones. Upon the positive and enthusiastic feedback of this group, it was decided to develop the project, aiming to reach a wider audience.

Recently, volunteers are being accepted to the project, through digital forms published on the Turkish Alzheimer Association's website. Volunteers are asked to record themselves reading a 5-to-6-page story, slowly and clearly, so that viewers with dementia can easily hear and understand. Once the videos are ready, volunteers share them with the editorial board formed for this project.

In the selection phase for the stories used, the volunteers are advised to avoid sad, frightening or worrying themes that include negative events such as death, sickness, separation, pain, abandonment, etc. They are also told to avoid offensive and abusive language and not to select juvenile stories aimed at children. It is important to pick stories that are appropriate for the age of the adult as well as ones that will cheer them up and preferably prompt them to laugh and feel energised. In addition, the stories are especially requested to be recorded using animation and voice-over techniques rather than prose reading, so that the viewer will be more engaged.

The story videos that meet these expectations will be announced on social media channels and will be a source of entertainment for all Turkish-speaking people, whether in Turkey or abroad.

This project aims to make older people - who constitute 8.6% of Turkey's population, i.e. more than 7 million citizens - feel more valued, dignified and socially connected, hence maintain their quality of life.