While it’s often been thought that familiar music can successfully engage those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, recent research has shown that books written for these individuals can have a similar effect. (New Old Age)
“Researchers have found in a number of studies that reading can improve a patient’s quality of life. The meanings of written sentences can be understood by — and prompt cogent responses from — even those who have difficulty handling verbal exchanges,” writes Milt Fredenheim in a 2010 article on Alzheimer’s patients and books.
Every Friday at 11 a.m., Friends Place holds its weekly Book Club. Earlier this spring we read Jack London’s classic Call of the Wild. Not only did we discuss the book’s themes and characters, we also got to hear some of members share on their wonderful past experiences visiting Alaska and the Yukon Territory to watch the Iditarod Race in person.
The Book Club followed Call of the Wild up with October Sky, Homer Hickman’s true story about a group of boys growing up in West Virginia during the great space race of the 1950s. At the urge and encouragement of one of their teachers, the boys follow their passion for rockets. The book wonderfully expounds upon encouraging and uplifting themes like tenacity, overcoming difficulties and pursuing one’s dreams.
Reading these books and the subsequent discussions that follow produce a host of benefits for our members. A 2012 study published by The Cochrane Library found that mental exercise and engagement has a positive effect on memory and thinking test scores of individuals with dementia.
Through conversations of past and present events, word games, puzzles, music and gardening, the study found “a clear, consistent benefit on cognitive function was associated with cognitive stimulation.”
The participants in the study also reported an improved quality of life and found they were able to communicate better than they were prior to the study.
Friends Place was founded in 2005 on a desire to enhance the lives of those affected by dementia and we firmly believe that our Book Club goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to our members’ quality of life.
Have you found reading to enhance the life of a loved one affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s? Do you have a book you would like to see featured in the Book Club? Let us know in the comment section or on our Facebook page!
About the Author
Pam Kovacs is owner/founder of Friends Place Adult Day Service. With more than 30 years of experience in the field of aging, Pam has extensive knowledge and training in all areas of Alzheimer’s and dementia. For more information on Pam and Friends Place’s Alzheimer’s programs, follow her on Google+ or Like Friends Place on Facebook.