Carrie Aalberts, of Dementia Darling and Eugeria describes the ‘NANA’S BOOKS effect’.
‘Care Partner Patti’ LaFleur of Lorenzo’s House shared NANA’S BOOKS with her lovely Mom, Linda. Here’s what she had to say:
“Nana’s Books are intentionally designed to give elders and their families immersion in genre art and coming-of-age literature to elicit story, minus personal reference—and without expectation. These books validate, soothe and inspire.”
Despite the fact that there are 50 million people living with dementia worldwide, and there are hundreds of titles for their care partners, there is still very little in the way of engaging reading material for this growing population. This is terribly sad, as many in early stage dementia retain their ability to read and enjoy it! Multiple studies show the cognitive benefits of reading, as well as the social and emotional boost provided by interaction with high-interest text. People in late stage dementia enjoy being read aloud to and relish the warm interaction even after they can no longer speak or see.
For people with dementia, the obstacles to reading are many-- and books, magazines and newspapers that used to bookend the day and underpin a sense of identity via self-selected reading materials, fall by the wayside. The text is too dense, the fonts are too small, the content is too challenging and current events are often too distressing. People then struggle to read what they once enjoyed and give up in frustration.
NANA’S BOOKS meet the need for books that respect the intellect and interests of people living with dementia, and meet their motor, visual and cognitive challenges with modified versions of art, (illustration, photography, fine art), literature, poetry and praise that they know and love. They give elders a renewed sense of self, as the visual and auditory cues (images and verse) act as prompts to give them the words to articulate their thoughts and share their feelings.
Whether or not your elder is experiencing cognitive decline, shared reading builds connection and engages the brain and heart. To combat loneliness and to build a bridge to their past and current selves is time well spent, as we all long to be heard, nurtured and understood.
Shared reading stimulates conversation which validates life experiences and affirms us. Just as we read aloud to our little ones to welcome them into our human community, reading aloud to seniors is a positive interaction which enriches our daily lives as we reach our journeys’ end.
We read aloud/ together to:
Shared reading results in:
For people living with brain changes, a stroll down memory lane is so much more than a pleasant way to pass time. Nostalgia brings back long-forgotten memories and emotions which reconnect us with our core selves. And while short term memory is negatively impacted by dementia, older memories remain. The years between ages 10-30 are thought to resonate with people in cognitive decline. People can recall first loves, bringing home baby, military service, raising young children more clearly than what happened last night, last week, or last year. Because the past is where many people with dementia find themselves, that is where we can meet them, to enter their world and to engage them with tidbits of fond recollections that bring them moments of joy.
NANA’S BOOKS are mindfully designed for readers in any stage, and people of all ages and cognitive abilities enjoy reading and sharing them. In early stages, the books can be read independently at any time, in digital or traditional book formats. Those in middle stages enjoy a read-along, I-Spy, choral reading, and taking a picture walk.
Those in late stages, palliative and hospice care, love to be read aloud to, and NANA’S resonant poetry, especially, brings families and clinicians peace.