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Read Aloud Picture Books ~ The Perfect Gift for People Living with Dementia

Last updated on May 22, 2021

I believe reading aloud to someone living with dementia is an essential component for maximum health and happiness, and is probably one of the best cognitive stimulation activities to do. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Individuals living with dementia love to hear about real people doing amazing, daring, important, unselfish, heroic things. It’s a daily activity on my calendar. 

There are billions of events in history that we have yet to hear about–so many stories to look for and read! Many are well kept secrets just sitting in thousands of books on thousands of library shelves waiting to be discovered.

So let’s go and discover!

Group Activities for Patients Living with Dementia ~ Connect the Dots

In my role as Memory Care Director, I see the day to day obstacles and declines up close. Reading is a skill that can be lost during the second and longest phase of dementia. For people who have lived full and productive lives, and were once avid readers, this can be devastating. 24 hour days can seem like an eternity. 

Alzheimer’s disease and Macular Degeneration prevented my dad from reading for the last 8 years of his life. He spent his life devouring information. In fact, he’d wake up at 3:30am to enjoy quiet reading time. In his final years, dad loved to hear newspaper articles, biographies, verses from the Bible–anything someone would read aloud to him. He missed being about to see the words.

I plan a theme for the day.

For example, if today is February 12, our In the News activity would tell us Abraham Lincoln was born to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln in 1809 in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky. Next, I’d read aloud “A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln” and or “L is for Lincoln” and or “B is for Bluegrass: A Kentucky Alphabet.”  

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Other activities throughout the day might include: Learning more about Lincoln’s family life and presidency, reading part of the Gettysburg Address, eating some of his favorite foods–apples, cheese and crackers–for a snack, and sharing trivia and interesting facts about Lincoln such as:

  • He was the first US President to be assassinated.
  • He is the only president to have a patent to his name. The patent was for a device which assisted ships to get around in shallow waters.
  • He is responsible for the institution of Thanksgiving Day in the USA.
  • He kept his important papers, mail, bankbook, etc. in his stovepipe hat.
  • He bred hound dogs that he treated like members of the family. And gave some of them unusual names.
  • Height: 6 feet 4 inches.
  • He was an accomplished wrestler. In 300 wrestling matches, he only lost once. He has been honored in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.
  • He raised US armed forces of nearly 3 million Northern soldiers to face a Southern army of over 2 million soldiers.
  • A 60-foot sculpture of his head is carved into Mount Rushmore.
  • He was a big fan of actor John Wilkes Booth and even invited him to visit the White House.

Great Book Club Reads for People Living with Dementia

I’m very picky when it comes to choosing books for read-a-louds. The right book must meet this criteria: 

  • Be a true and positive story–teaches lessons about life, failures and successes
  • Have engaging, colorful illustrations or photos
  • Share new information/fact(s) or remind us of facts we once knew and have forgotten
  • Leave listeners with good feelings–appreciation for contribution, hope for better things, admiration for courage to do something difficult, etc.
  • Be clean, have little/no content that will distress people living with dementia

A trip to the public library each week, along with my personal and ever growing collection of books provides me with plenty of appropriate material. 

Here’s a snippet of my residents’ favorite read-aloud picture books:  

 

Best Kept Secrets

If you’re like me, most of the people and events in the stories I’ve listed are unfamiliar. There are just so many amazing people who have made their mark in history.  A majority of them do things because they see a need and search for a way to improve the situation; or they stick to a hobby/talent no matter what other people say or think and end up benefiting others; or their creativity/vision directs them to blaze a new trail or…..any number of reasons other than not to become famous.

That’s why I consider books an excellent gift choice for people living with Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia. Picture book stories can be read over and over, they aren’t too lengthy, they have photos or illustrations to help tell the story, shared with others, talked about in reminiscing activity, treasured. and last forever. There’s just something special about getting a good book from a friend or loved one.

Choose some titles and settle in for a great time!

Please leave comments, questions, and requests below and I’ll chat with you soon.

Cheers,

Tamara

 

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8 Comments

  1. drinkteahubdrinkteahub

    What a lovely idea, reading aloud to a person with dementia, and you clearly have the experience to make this a suggestion that is obviously worthwhile. My grandmother passed away 17 years ago (can’t believe it’s that long!) and suffered from dementia for the last couple of years of her life. I used to read to her whenever I could because it seemed to calm her, and reading this post has made me feel that I really was doing something worthwhile that made her life better. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • adminadmin

      Hello,

      I’m sorry that your grandmother had dementia. Hopefully you have some good memories of the time you spent caring for her. I can say, with the greatest confidence, that reading aloud to her enhanced the quality of her life. She may not have been able to put into words what she felt, but if she calmed down, she knew you cared and enjoyed your company. 

      Thank you for visiting and sharing a personal experience. 

      Tamara

  2. AlblueAlblue

    Thank you for sharing the book recommendation! It’s good to know some trivia about Lincoln. because I’ve already heard about him in history lesson but never learned too much about him. Also, there are so many books that you’ve recommended above. Is there any book above with many graphics? My grandma loves to also see the visual. Thanks

    • adminadmin

      Hello!

      Thanks for commenting on Brain Power for Dementia-Well Kept Secrets. All of the books I’ve mentioned in this blog have wonderful, colorful illustrations. I am a visual learner–like your grandma–so I choose stories with lots of graphics. 

  3. Twack RomeroTwack Romero

    We’ve been looking into the symptons of dementia and other related conditions as one of our relatives is just starting to show some unusual characteristics or ‘signs’. It’s not at the stage where we need to broach the subject head on, but it is worth just ‘keeping an eye out’ for an acceleration in any of the signs that we’re seeing. It may be something, it may not but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the possibilties.

    I read your article and then went and found part one, to get me up to speed and make sure I had everything in context. Some of the exercises warrant being used with ourselves, let alone someone with demetia. Keeping our brains stimulated can only be a good thing.

    I have to say that I didn’t know 90% of the facts about Abraham Lincoln. I quite often come across a persons name and wonder what their ealier lives were like and if there are any hidden gems of information about them. Using this method allows for a never-ending supply of good material to use, that’s for sure. It’s apparent that there is an emphasis on engagement. Rather than just sitting there and reading, you have created something more. Using interesting subject matter can only enhance the experience. 

  4. Gaurav GaurGaurav Gaur

    Hi, Tamara.
    Thanks for sharing your efforts you are putting for the Dementia suffering people in your locality. The list of books selected by you is really interesting and each book has a motivational factor in it. You are doing an extra ordinary work to help these people. Great Job !
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

  5. PurpleLionessPurpleLioness

    Hiya Tamara,

    Thank you for your interesting post about Brain Power for Dementia. I don’t have any personal experience of dementia apart from working with the elderly when I was younger. It’s challenging to be involved with a sufferer I’m sure, especially in a family environment. Are sufferers better off in residential care? 

    I didn’t realise that reading out loud to a sufferer could be so beneficial. Thank you for giving me lots of good ideas for reading materials. Krs PurpleLioness 

  6. ParveenParveen

    Hey Tamara, I enjoyed while reading your article on Brain Power for Dementia. Now I am on part 2 of Brain Power for Dementia – Book Club Picture Books. While enjoying I found that Reading is a skill that can be lost during the second–and longest–phase of dementia. I Love your list of books. I hope I will read some of them in this year 2020 to update my knowledge.

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