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Turning the Page on Dementia: How Reading Groups Help Bridge the Gap

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As an individual ages, it’s important that he or she maintain social connection and contact with others in order to stay healthy, both mentally and emotionally. One excellent way to forge and keep up connections with peers is through reading groups, particularly for those with challenges like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There are quite a few reasons why participating in a book circle, group, discussion or a read-aloud event with others helps both focus and mood, particularly in the care home setting.


4 Ways Reading Groups Help People With Dementia

  1. Reading Provides a Common Interest Within a Care Home. Meeting new people, even those you share a building with, can be tricky even for those that aren’t dealing with impairments. Books and reading in general are a ready-made hobby that inspires conversation, and once you introduce interesting subjects or favorite authors, there’s quite a lot to talk about. Larger books can be divided into chapters to discuss over several weeks, and smaller novels can be read aloud to the group in chunks at specific meeting times.
  2. Reading Helps Slow Cognitive Decline. According to ALZInfo.org, a frequent habit of reading and writing in one’s “golden years” can slow age-related brain decline by close to 14%. The activity stimulates and challenges neural pathways, which makes it harder for issues like Alzheimer’s-related plaques and tangles to spread throughout the brain. While reading isn’t a cure, it can easily be incorporated into the lifestyle portion of treatment.
  3. Reading Promotes Inclusion and Companionship. Reading aloud to a group engages the vocal cords, the mind, the vision, the emotions – it’s a great social workout! Whether a group is reading contemporary novels or historical fiction, comparing and contrasting to story to the real world stimulates critical thinking and sparks thought-provoking discussion for participants of all ages. In fact, according to a recent article in The Guardian, 90% of the participants in an elderly reading group study reported that shared reading in particular offered benefits like elevated moods, better memory in both the short and long term and even improved concentration.
  4. Reading is an Easy Habit to Start. Unlike certain activities, all that’s required to participate or begin a reading group is literacy. Even if an individual has some vision impairments, large-print and even braille versions of many popular books are often available to care homes through mainstream book sellers like Amazon, allowing these men and women to keep pace in the group no matter what the state of their vision may be. If a potential participant is shy or uncertain about joining, he or she could simply attend and observe before deciding whether or not to join – prior chapters are easy to catch up on.

Reading is a wonderful and timeless activity that helps support the brain and social connections, and group reading among the elderly amplifies those benefits. If you are or know an avid older “bookworm” in a care home, encourage them to join or start a group reading program to share their love of books with others.

Further Reading

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