Top Books for Dementia Patients: Engaging Reads at Every Stage of Memory Loss


How reading can benefit your loved one

It may not be apparent why reading benefits someone with memory loss, especially as their cognitive abilities decline. However, simply participating in a favorite pastime — like holding a book and turning the pages — can help your loved one feel at ease by encouraging reminiscence and nostalgia. Stimulating this implicit memory of reading can be a key part of your loved one’s overall care strategy.

Reading is not only great for reminiscence. The cognitive stimulation of reading can also help seniors with dementia maintain their cognitive abilities.

Scientific studies consistently show that a habit of reading and other forms of cognitive exercise can reduce or slow cognitive decline and leads to higher brain density. There is even proof that reading helps to protect the existing memory in people who have brain damage and memory disease.

Below are lists of books that are adapted to each stage of dementia.

Best books for early-stage dementia

In early-stage dementia, your loved one might still be able to live independently and finish tasks on their own, but they may have trouble remembering details such as a person’s name. Books for this stage have easy-to-read sentences that make up brief paragraphs and chapters, and they’re similar to average books. Pictures and stories centered around familiar topics help seniors stay engaged.

A Dusting of Snow by Emma Rose Sparrow

This story follows a woman who is reluctant to wake up on a cold morning but finds interesting happenings throughout her day. Author Emma Rose Sparrow uses large font, short paragraphs and chapters, and pictures to guide the reader through the story. Readers will also appreciate that this book makes no mention of dementia or memory loss, as it is designed just like any average book.

Find it here: A Dusting of Snow

The Hockey Game by Thomas Mateson

This beautifully illustrated book brings the excitement of the sports world to the page. Readers will enjoy finding out which team wins the championship game, with easy-to-read sentences and paragraphs as well as reminders to turn the page.

The publisher, Marlena Books, designs books specifically for readers affected by dementia. They also offer a dementia-friendly reading app with more accessibility features to enhance the experience.

Find it here: The Hockey Game

Family Thanksgiving by Jamie Stonebridge

This book features short chapters centered around a holiday that will resonate with many readers. Pictures at the beginning of each chapter and positive language throughout enhance the reading experience. This book is also designed to be seen as an average book, and it does not mention dementia or memory loss, which is important for many readers.

Find it here: Family Thanksgiving

Best books for the middle stages of dementia

If your loved one shows signs of cognitive impairment, such as sudden personality changes and the need for help with daily activities, they may be in the middle stages of dementia. Books for this stage use pictures and illustrations to help your loved one recall memories. Simple descriptions and page layouts make it easier for seniors to focus on the story.

I Remember the Seasons by Brenda C. Poulos

Poetry and beautiful illustrations make it easy to bring back memories of sledding, swimming, and raking leaves. The verses are easy enough for many seniors to read, but they can also be read aloud by a caregiver. The book’s helpful guide encourages caregivers to ask questions that will direct the reader and aid in reminiscence.

Find it here: I Remember the Seasons

A Year’s Worth of Yellow by Emma Rose Sparrow

Each picture in this book centers on the color yellow, with short descriptions that are only a few sentences long. It’s also designed to be easy to focus on each page, as each left page is blank.

Find it here: A Year’s Worth of Yellow

The Sunshine on My Face by Lydia Burdick

This book is designed to be read alongside your loved one as a Two-Lap Book™. It’s big enough to be held in both of your laps, so you can flip through it while sitting together. Illustrations and short descriptions focus on common, joyful experiences such as being outside or listening to music.

Find it here: The Sunshine on My Face.

Best books for late-stage dementia

If your loved one experiences severe memory loss and isn’t able to control their movements anymore, they may be in the late stages of dementia. Books for this stage are designed for seniors and caregivers to flip through together. The illustrations should prompt you to ask questions and help your loved one reminisce.

Beside the Seaside: A Share-Time Picture Book for Reminiscing and Storytelling by Judi Parkinson

Large images encourage ocean-loving seniors to reminisce on serene memories of walking along the seashore, building sandcastles, and sunbathing. Beside the Seaside is a title that’s perfectly suited for any setting. It’s adaptable to one-on-one readings or small group sessions.

Find it here: Beside the Seaside: A Share-Time Picture Book for Reminiscing and Storytelling

Autumn Picture Book by Jamie Stonebridge

This thoughtfully designed picture book features carefully selected images to recall cheerful memories of fall days. Captions and suggested questions in the back of the book encourage caregivers to take an active role in engaging their loved one’s minds in the scene.

Find it here: Autumn Picture Book

The Splendor of Mother and Child Animals by Emma Rose Sparrow

Animal lovers will enjoy this picture book of mother animals and their offspring in the wild. From polar bears to owls, there’s an animal for everyone. Ask your loved one questions about what they see to inspire thoughtful discourse, or simply enjoy these beautiful images together.

Find it here: The Splendor of Mother and Child Animals

Caregiver benefits

Books that are easy for your loved ones to read can give them a feeling of success that boosts self-esteem. Also, reminiscence can put them at ease, and cognitive stimulation may help them maintain their current abilities.

Promoting reading is also a way for caregivers to find a moment for themselves while their loved one enjoys the activity. Or, if you choose to read with your loved one, it can deepen the bond you share.

You can also consider these other engaging activities to keep your dementia-affected loved one cognitively stimulated:

Or, if you’re looking for a book to help you understand what your loved one is experiencing, you’ll find numerous resources for caregivers in this article on the best books on dementia for caregivers. Whether you’re interested in lifestyle tips or in more ways to provide cognitive stimulation, there are books that touch on every subject.

If you think your loved one might need additional assistance or stimulation that you may not be able to provide, reach out to A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors. These experts can help you find professional memory care caregivers in your area, all at no cost to you.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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