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One of the Best Activities for Dementia Patients ~ Book Club

One of the highlights of my day is reading aloud to my residents. And it must be a highlight for them too, because if I haven’t started moving furniture and pulled out my picture books by mid-morning, someone always wants to know “when will you read to us?”

 

 

Sofas and recliners are arranged into a large circle. All distractions—music, TV, other activities—cease for a time. Blankets cover laps. We settle in to hear fabulous tales of courageous historical figures, famous places, grand inventions, and important events that have shaped our lives. Our Book Club activity brings feelings of connection and belonging to the world, our community and each other. 

Listening to well written non-fiction stories helps stimulate and build cognitive processes, including thinking, remembering, formulating/asking questions, and commenting.

Older adults with dementia love to hear about individuals like George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Cesar Chavez, Amelia Earhart, and Helen Keller to name a few.

And reading stories of unknown (or not so well remembered) people, such as Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore in “Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace” and Mary Garber in “Miss Mary Reporting” help us learn new and amazing facts. Our minds are broadened and we appreciate life experiences. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some of the best discussions I’ve participated in with my residents are those brought on by reading about real people and real events in the history of our world. 

At this point, you might be thinking these are books for kids not adults. Please know, I would never talk down to or disrespect my residents in any way.  Each book I recommend to you is written in appropriate and respectful language and tone for adults with dementia.

Every title I suggest is tried and true.

Children’s picture books are my favorite books to read aloud for several reasons:

  • Simplistic, engaging storytelling
  • Interesting subjects
  • One story can easily be read in 10-15 minutes 
  • Illustrations and or photos enhance understanding of and interaction with the topic
  • And, there are about a billion books to choose from!

A favorite author is David A. Adler. He has a series of picture books about famous people in the United States:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abraham Lincoln Jesse Owens
Alexander Hamilton John and Abigail Adams
Amelia Earhart John F. Kennedy
Anne Frank John Hancock
Benjamin Franklin Louis and Clark
Cesar Chavez Louis Braille
Christopher Columbus Martin Luther King, Jr.
Daniel Boone Patrick Henry
Davy Crocket Paul Revere
Dolley and James Madison Robert E. Lee
Dwight David Eisenhower Rosa Parks
Eleanor Roosevelt Sacagawea
Florence Nightingale Sam Houston
Frederick Douglass Samuel Adams
George Washington Simon Bolivar
George Washington Carver Sitting Bull
Harriet Beecher Stowe Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman Thomas Alva Edison
Harry Houdini Thomas Jefferson
Helen Keller Thurgood Marshall
Jackie Robinson

A couple other great series, by various authors/illustrators, that I read regularly include:

  • Alphabet Books Series and Number Books Series 
  • Discover America State by State Series/Sleeping Bear Press (listed below)
  • Discover Canada Province by Province/Sleeping Bear Press (listed below)
  • Discover the World/Sleeping Bear Press (listed below)

Each book is packed with captivating information and beautiful illustrations.

Long list, but worth pursuing. My residents love these titles:

Alabama                       Nebraska

Alaska                           Nevada

Arizona                         New Hampshire

Arkansas                      New Jersey

California                     New Mexico

Colorado                      New York

Connecticut                 North Carolina

Delaware                     North Dakota

Florida                         Ohio

Georgia                        Oklahoma

Hawaii                         Oregon

Idaho                           Pennsylvania

Illinois                         Rhode Island

Indiana                        South Carolina

Iowa                             South Dakota

Kansas                         Tennessee

Kentucky                     Texas

Louisiana                     Utah

Maine                           Vermont

Maryland                     Virginia

Massachusetts            Washington

Michigan                      Washington DC

Minnesota                    West Virginia

Mississippi                   Wisconsin

Missouri                        Wyoming

Montana

 

Other Titles about America

D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet

W is for Welcome: A Celebration fo America’s Diversity

M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet

S is for Sleeping Bear Dunes: A National Lakeshore Alphabet

B is for Beacon: A Great Lakes Lighthouse Alphabet

F is for Fenway: America’s Oldest Major League Ballpark

P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet

B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet

D is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet

S is for Smithsonian: America’s Museum Alphabet

 

Discover Canada Province by Province Series

C is for Canada

M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet

L is for Land of Living Skies: A Saskatchewan Alphabet

T is for Territories: A Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut Alphabet

P is for Puffin: A Newfoundland and Labrador Alphabet

B is for Bluenose: A Nova Scotia Alphabet

S is for Spirit Bear: A British Columbia Alphabet

G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet

F is for Fiddlehead: A New Brunswick Alphabet

F is for French: A Quebec Alphabet

I is for Island: A Prince Edward Island Alphabet

C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet

A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet

M is for Mountie: A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Alphabet

 

Discover the World Series

A is for America

S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet

E is for Eiffel Tower: A France Alphabet

C is for Ciao: An Italy Alphabet

G is for Gladiator: An Ancient Rome Alphabet

B is for Big Ben: An England Alphabet

P is for Passport: A World Alphabet

P is for Pinata: A Mexico Alphabet

D is for Dala Horse: A Nordic Countries Alphabet

T is for Taj Mahal: An India Alphabet

D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet

B is for Bagpipes: A Scotland Alphabet

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet

K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet

D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

 

Reading aloud to individuals and groups, especially if they are unable to read for themselves, is very rewarding. Some of my residents have macular degeneration, glaucoma, or other eye issues that prevent them from seeing words on a page. Others are in the later stages of dementia, so have lost the ability to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, and anxiety in people with dementia can vanish when someone takes the time to read aloud.

 

Check my free list for more book recommendations.

 

Please leave comments, questions, suggestions, requests, experiences below.

Happy Reading!

 

Tamara

 

 

 

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