Dementia Patients and Reading

August 28, 2017

We all know that reading is good for the mind. While keeping the mind active may help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, what can be done for those already diagnosed with the disease?

Tips on reading to dementia patients.

Reading together is helpful for both the listener and the reader.

Certain patients may not be able to read on their own. However, being read to, or enjoying group reading sessions may have certain cognitive benefits and may promote beneficial social engagement.

How to Choose Proper Material

Choosing the right book to read is important, especially for dementia patients. Their attention spans may be very short, so picking up the latest novel may not be very effective. Let’s talk about some helpful tips on how to choose the right reading material.

  • Short and Sweet. Collections of positive sayings or life affirmations may hold the attention of dementia sufferers and put them in a positive frame of mind. Try out this collection.
  • Get Familiar. Choosing books that have familiar settings may help to resurrect certain memories. One wife found a book with detailed descriptions of places her husband knew well. Reading it to him helped him to focus and fondly remember the places of his childhood. If you can’t find a book about the places that are familiar to your loved one, try choosing a book that takes place in a time period of which your loved one is fond. The work may be fictional but contain references to famous people or places of the relevant time.
  • Involve the Kids. Grandchildren who are young may still be able to get involved in helping out. Even if the child can’t read, taking a picture book to Grandma or Grandpa can be engaging for both parties. Try asking the little one to share the pictures while telling their own stories. Kids can get very creative and entertaining!
  • Group Reading. Local libraries and senior centers often schedule group reading sessions. While patients may not get the most out of the book being read, it’s a great opportunity for socialization and may still help to increase concentration.
  • Letters. Reading old letters may also help to increase concentration and perhaps even bring back happy memories. Try to choose letters and cards that have a positive tone and some substance. Rather than choosing a short greeting card, try to find letters that tell a story.

While reading out loud is good for the listener, it’s also beneficial for the reader. It’s a great way to relax and unwind while still keeping the mind active. With cold weather upon so many of us, winter is a great time of year to start the good habit of reading!


Jason Sager

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior who could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Fairfax Annandale, please call us at 703.750.6644 or email us. We work with most long term care insurance companies as well as Veterans Affairs, and Workers' Compensation.

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