Books and Reading Can Engage Alzheimer's Patients January 02 2013

Communication connects us to each other. Ask a family member of someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia: Trying to conduct a conversation with a loved one living with memory loss can be very challenging. In fact, with more than 26 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, the issue of maintaining a meaningful conversation is one of the biggest challenges for health-care professionals, as well as in-home caregivers. Because the disease slowly diminishes the ability to communicate, it creates distinct challenges in how a person expresses their thoughts and emotions, as well as how they comprehend what is being verbalized to them.

Why Reading? Reading is a valuable activity that can be particularly beneficial to a person with dementia. By reading and encouraging engagement through personal reminiscing—a feeling of empowerment, an elevated mood, a positive self-image, and a reduced level of depression may result. In addition, a caregiver’s presence, support and attention can communicate acceptance, reassurance, and affection to an adult experiencing memory loss.

The ability to read is not always destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. Research demonstrates that people who were avid readers during their lifetimes maintain the ability to read until the end stages of dementia. The meaning of words and sentences may be understood by—and prompt responses from—even those individuals who have a difficult time communicating.

At the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease, many literate patients may still enjoy reading books independently, while simple stories can be used to assist later-stage patients to continue reading. Even at the very late stages of the disease, many patients can be engaged by stories read to them by a loved one or caregiver.

What to Read It is important to select books or reading material appropriate for people diagnosed with a memory-loss condition. Primarily, choose books that reflect an individual’s tastes and interests. Also, consider books with large-print text, as the person may have impaired vision. Finally, opt for books with large, vibrant photographs—while they complement and enhance the words from a story­—they can also engage individuals who do not connect to words, but rather with pictures.

Reading and Memories Remember, each of our lives is filled with cherished memories. Recounting these events is an uplifting experience that stimulates the heart, mind, and soul. Reading and enjoying photographs or illustrations from a book can trigger special memories from a loved one's youth or early adulthood. It provides an opportunity for adults living with memory loss to rediscover past experiences, events, or relationships and allows a unique life story to be shared, and a personal legacy to be preserved.

Shadowbox Press interactive, large-print books are designed to provide an opportunity for adults diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia to reminisce, recall special memories, and share stories together. Our books feature universally appealing content written in clear, concise, easy-to-read sentences, vivid photographs, innovative Conversation Starters, and practical Activities. For more information or to place your order, call us toll-free at (888) 796-6333.