The Best Books for People with Alzheimer’s or Other Forms of Dementia
Good Reads for Loved Ones with Dementia.
As a form of learning, enjoyment, escape and mental stimulation, reading is among our most rewarding activities during any phase of life. Language and literacy are vital to the quality of human experience. But can memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia create reading issues for older people? Will dementia bring an end to the pleasures of enjoying a good book? Eventually, perhaps. But did you know that books for dementia patients are written and designed specifically to mitigate reading issues for adults with memory problems? And that narrative and picture books for adults with dementia are more readily available than you might imagine?
What do researchers suggest?
Fundació ACE is a nonprofit foundation in Barcelona, Spain, serving people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and their caregivers in the fields of diagnosis, treatment, research, training and awareness. Marina Guitart is a psychologist and coordinator of the foundation’s Day Care Unit. She observes that many people with dementia retain their ability to read but lose focus or become easily fatigued. They give up on reading because of the effort involved in keeping the thread of the story.
Dr. Guitart advises, “Don’t stop reading. Reading every day helps preserve language and memory longer. But be sure to choose reading materials wisely for loved ones with dementia. Find books with photos and clear, large text.”
Books for dementia patients that resemble books for anyone.
Too often, family members turn to children’s books to help their loved ones with dementia maintain an interest in reading. Though the intention is good, books written for children and young adults may not be appropriate for seniors. And books that are labeled as being for dementia patients may be offensive to some individuals and damaging to their self-esteem.
Fortunately, authors and publishers acknowledge the need for books specifically for seniors with dementia — readers who now struggle with long paragraphs and may have trouble following a story. These books are written to be easy to read and formatted with larger text and images. By all appearances, they resemble any “regular” book a person would be proud to own.
Senior-friendly reading for adults with dementia.
Emma Rose Sparrow is a writer of nonfiction who redirected her work when both her parents were diagnosed with dementia. She’s written a series of easy-to-read books with short paragraphs, short chapters, extra space between each line, and one or two vivid color photos in each short chapter. The stories feature adult main characters who are relatable to senior readers. Some of her many titles include:
- The Sandy Shoreline
- What the Wind Showed to Me
- Down by the Meadow
- The Splendor of Babies
- A Dusting of Snow
- Autumn’s Display
Author Jamie Stonebridge writes books in collaboration with people who have direct, positive experience working with loved ones and patients who have dementia. They understand the enjoyment that can be gained from the simplicity of everyday events and the calming effect of a satisfying ending. The author’s goal is to produce books that bring a smile. Some titles include:
- A Day at the Park
- A Trip to the Lake
- A Visit to the Farm
- A Summer Walk
- A Visit to the Library
- Family Thanksgiving
Dovetale Press adapts classic works of literature for the reader who might find standard books difficult because of certain health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia or stroke. The publisher engaged an applied linguist, Dr. Gillian Claridge, and a psychogeriatrician, Dr. B. Sally Rimkeit, to oversee these adaptations and make them accessible to people with cognitive impairment. Here are six titles:
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle
(A Sherlock Holmes adventure)
- The Garden Party & The Doll’s House
(Short stories by Katherine Mansfield)
- Poetry for the Restless Heart
(Selected poems of nature, love, life and laughter.)
Sunny Street Books designs lightweight, high-quality books filled with curated, full-color, high-resolution photos and illustrated short stories crafted to be simple and uncomplicated without being childish. This is a small sampling of their titles:
- The Picture Book of American Patriotism
- The Picture Book of Natural Wonders
- The Picture Book of Movie Stars
- The Picture Book of Animal Friends
- The Picture Book of Kids and Animals
- The Picture Book of Bible Verses
Keep books and reading in the lives of your loved ones.
Don’t allow dementia to deprive your loved one of the joy of reading. Many people can continue to read during the early and mid stages of Alzheimer’s. Many others simply enjoy paging through a familiar magazine or having a few of their favorite books nearby. Even holding a favorite classic or religious book in their hands may bring comfort and peace. All the books referenced in this blog are available online from the publishers or through Amazon Books.
The Ridge Senior Living family of communities — The Ridge Foothill; The Ridge Cottonwood near Salt Lake City; and our new Denver community, The Ridge Pinehurst — are leaders in the field of modern memory care. Looking for more resources on memory care? You can learn to recognize the signs that a loved one needs memory care and also the best method of transitioning a parent to residential memory care.
The Ridge communities provide an unmatched level of comfort and camaraderie to carry residents through even the most uncertain times. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.