Caregivers now have another strategy for reaching out to residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia – books written and designed especially for seniors with memory care needs. Experts say that even individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s are engaged by these books that they can either read by themselves or with the help of a family member or caregiver.
Researchers confirm that reading can improve quality of life for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and that “the meanings of sentences can be understood by – and prompt cogent responses from – even those who have difficulty handling verbal exchanges,” according to a New York Times report.
But regular large-print or children’s books often won’t work to engage seniors with dementia. “If they see something as being childish, you have lost them,” Dr. Barry Reisberg told the Times. Reisberg is a professor of psychiatry and director of the Fisher Alzheimer’s program at New York University. He and other physicians are endorsing the use of books like those published by Lydia Burdick – a New York businesswoman who was inspired to produce them by her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Burdick has produced three books that focus their stories on realistic watercolor pictures of white-haired men and women and their families.
According to the Times:
Providers may consider sharing these specialized books with family members who visit their loved ones in memory care. Another resource for family members may be a recent compilation of poems by writers who have dealt with dementia in their families. Published by Kent State University Press, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, includes nearly 500 contributions, including this one from a piece called “Losing Solomon”:
Things seem to take on a sudden shimmer
before vanishing: the polished black loafers
he wore yesterday, the reason for climbing
the stairs, even the names of his own children
are swallowed like spent stars against the dark
vault of memory. Today the toaster gives up
its silver purpose in his hands, becomes a radio,
an old Philco blaring a ball game from the ’40s
with Jackie Robinson squaring up to the plate.
Read the New York Times article, “Many Alzheimer’s Patients Find Comfort in Books.”
Read more about the books by Lydia Burdick, produced especially for seniors with dementia.
Read more about the poetry compilation called Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease.