Picture Books for Seniors with Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia March 11 2013

Picture books offer seniors living with dementia a visually stimulating, entertaining, and engaging activity. As human beings, we use our sense of sight to connect with the world. Pictures can draw in readers. By reviewing the imagery and text of a picture book, a person with dementia can experience reading as a gratifying activity. In addition, sharing a book with a caregiver or loved one provides socialization while making the activity interactive.

It is often difficult for a person with dementia to read a full-length book. In these cases, adult picture books become a more appropriate choice. With vivid imagery and a limited word count, a person with memory loss may find these styles of books more user-friendly and engaging.

Benefits of Picture Books

Pictures or photographs can bring the text of books to life. A person with memory loss may look at a photograph of a child smiling and associate positive attributes to the image. They can perceive the child as friendly and loving. The visual images can provide the opportunity to express emotions such as happiness or contentment. The pictures may also trigger feelings or experiences from the past allowing them to benefit from revisiting special memories.

Combining pictures and words makes it easier for the reader to comprehend the text of the story. By visually enhancing the words, a person with memory loss may have a longer attention span during the activity, thereby decreasing boredom.

Viewing picture books provides a variety of sensory experiences beneficial for a person with dementia. The sense of sight is used to look at the pictures, touch is used to handle and turn the pages, and hearing is used to listen to the story if it is read aloud. Interestingly, some people with dementia may even touch the images on the page as if they were real. They may touch a piece of hair that is out of place or kiss the photograph of a child.

How to Provide an Engaging Reading Experience

Reading can play a positive role in purposeful activities. Choose titles that reflect an individual’s tastes and interests when integrating picture books into activities programming. Pick books with beautiful, engaging images that stimulate the senses. Consider books with relevant pictures that evoke positive feelings. Select books with pictures that have simple backgrounds rather than busy ones. Close-up photos can sometimes make a person with dementia feel as if he or she is experiencing what is happening in the photograph. Also, consider large pictures and large-print text to benefit those with a visual impairment.  

Encourage conversation as soon as you begin reading a book. Point to, describe, and share your own stories relating to the pictures. Be patient and allow the person ample time to examine and fully process the picture. If the person is able, let them turn the pages. This can keep them engaged and enhance their level of participation.

The visual imagery of a picture book can encourage a dynamic interaction. Quality adult-picture books can rekindle an interest in books and continue a lifelong passion for reading.

"A book is a friend."  —American Proverb

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.