Barcelona, April 23rd 2020
On the occasion of Sant Jordi's Day
Experts advise encouraging the reading habit among people with Alzheimer's
• The professionals of Fundación ACE prove daily that the mechanics of reading ability can be preserved until advanced stages of dementia
• Reading is one of the tools through which the Memory Workshops offered by the Foundation work the language and memory of users
Encouraging and maintaining the habit of reading helps to maintain the activity and cognitive functions of people with Alzheimer's. This is what the experts from Fundació ACE-Barcelona Alzheimer Treatment & Research Center indicate, who, within the framework of the celebration of Sant Jordi's Day, recommend promoting reading among people with dementia as a tool for working on language and memory.
Although reading ability is one of the processes that people lose later, it is common that, progressively, they abandon this practice because of the effort involved in following the thread of the story and keeping their attention on what they are reading.
In view of this situation, the experts at Fundació ACE recommend that family members and caregivers of people with dementia facilitate this activity by accompanying them in their reading and making a book or a newspaper available to them or by writing, for example, a short text in clear writing.
For more than 25 years, the professionals of Fundació ACE have been carrying out an Integral Psychostimulation Program (IPP), through which users attend workshops and group activities to activate and work on their physical, intellectual and social capacities. Reading, physical exercise, music or art are some of the elements used by the Day Care Unit as tools to stimulate their abilities and also their memories.
Adapting reading to the needs of the person with Alzheimer's
Amèrica Morera, deputy director of the Day Care Unit of Fundació ACE, recommends that family members and caregivers take into account the specific needs of the person and the stage of the illness in order to adapt and facilitate readings.
"If we manage to adapt the readings to the needs and interests of the person with Alzheimer's, we can make this activity attractive to them and even allow them to remember vital aspects or emotions", Morera says. "It is important, on the other hand, that the person affected and his or her family member can share spaces and moments of leisure in which both can enjoy the activity without having to do additional work".
When providing tools for family members and caregivers, experts recommend that the following aspects be considered, depending on the stage of the disease:
If the person with dementia has enjoyed reading prior to the illness, we can get them to continue to enjoy it with a little help.
If, on the other hand, they have not been much of a reader, it is important that they do not lose the mechanics of reading.
At all stages it is advisable to read aloud, as it helps to focus attention on the activity, vocalize and have a good rhythm (not too fast).
- In early stage: the person can read short stories or with few characters and uncomplicated plots, stories or news in the press.
If we are reading a novel, it can be very useful in this phase to make a brief summary of the names and main characteristics of the characters and keep it inside the book, in case the person needs a reminder. It may also help if the family member or caregiver makes a brief verbal summary of what has happened in previous chapters.
- In moderate stage: it is advisable to use texts such as poetry, fables or short stories that have few characters.
- In advanced stage: you should choose to read words or phrases, written clearly. People who are in this phase usually react positively to sayings, popular sayings and to the reading of texts that have a meaning for them and that transfer them to their own experience.
Maribel Vera, occupational therapist at the Day Care Unit, recommends that families provide tools to people with dementia to make the experience more enjoyable. "It would be good if, as they read, they made notes in a notebook about the actions that happen during the reading. That way, every time you pick up the book, you can refer to your notes and you won't feel like you don't know what you're reading or lose the plot, while making the reading activity more complete.
It is also advisable that, whenever possible, you carry out the activity accompanied, to enhance its beneficial effects. "Reading accompanied will allow us to comment on the story, talk about the characters or the memories that the reading awakens in us and, in case the reaction is not positive, stop the activity".
On the subject or genre of the readings provided, the experts propose to resort to the preferred authors of the people concerned, even if they are readings that have already been done. "It is important, however, to be attentive to the symptoms that the person shows and to avoid that the reading affects him/her. That is, if among the symptoms shown by the person is agitation or distrust, we do not recommend crime novels or detective stories", concludes Vera.
More information at this link.