Last updated on June 3, 2021
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 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. We gather together 7 days a week.
Listening to well written non-fiction stories helps stimulate and build cognitive processes, including thinking, remembering, formulating/asking questions, and commenting. Older adults living 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 a variety of 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. We stretch our minds and voice our opinions and feelings about topics.
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 a tone for adults living 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 the understanding of and interaction with the topic
- And, there are about a billion amazing 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:
A couple other great series, by various authors/illustrators, that I read regularly include:
- Alphabet Books Series and Number Books Series/Sleeping Bear Press
- 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.
This is a long list, but then there are 50 states and worth pursuing. My residents love these titles:
Other Titles about America
Discover Canada Province by Province Series
Discover the World Series
Reading aloud to individuals and groups, especially if they are unable to read for themselves, is very important not only to the person living with dementia but also to the reader. 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. When someone else reads, listeners can relax, reminisce, smile, laugh, feel happy.
Feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, and anxiety in people living with dementia can vanish when someone takes the time to read aloud. So, grab a book or two and invite someone to join you!
Check here for my free list more book recommendations.
Please leave comments, questions, suggestions, requests, experiences below.
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