The Benefits of Reading for Dementia: How Stories Can Help Preserve Memory
For seniors with dementia, reading can be a great way to preserve memory and keep the mind active. Stories can take us on exciting adventures, introduce us to new people, and teach us about different cultures. By reading regularly, seniors with dementia can continue to enjoy all of the benefits that come with reading.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the ways that stories can help improve the quality of life for those living with dementia.
We will also offer some tips on how to get the most out of reading. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of how reading can help dementia patients and some ideas of what types of books may be best for them.
How Books Can Help and Prevent Dementia
As we age, our brains can begin to deteriorate. This process is known as dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a decline in cognitive function. This can include memory loss, difficulty communicating, and changes in mood or behavior.
Dementia affects seniors all over the world. In fact, dementia is the leading cause of disability in older adults. While there is no cure for dementia, there are things that can be done to help slow its progression.
One of the most effective ways to prevent dementia is by reading regularly. Studies have shown that reading can help improve cognitive function and slow the onset of dementia. In fact, one study found that seniors who read regularly were 32% less likely to develop dementia than those who did not read.
So, how does reading help preserve memory? When we read, our brains are stimulated in a way that helps to strengthen neural connections. This is especially important as we age, when our brains are more susceptible to decline.
A Source of Relaxation
In addition to improving cognitive function, reading can also help dementia patients relax and manage stress. For many seniors with dementia, anxiety and depression are common symptoms. Reading can provide a much-needed escape from the challenges of dementia. It can also help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm.
One study found that seniors with dementia who read regularly had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who did not read. This is significant because high levels of cortisol have been linked to an increased risk of dementia.
Not only can reading help reduce stress, but it can also be a great way to unwind before bed. A good book can help dementia patients wind down and get a good night’s sleep. This is important because poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of dementia.
Creativity and Cognitive Health
The creative nature of books, and especially fiction, is what makes them cognitively relevant. In fact, exercising our creative skills has been proven to lower our risk of dementia, and protect our cognitive health from decline. Reading can also help dementia patients tap into their creativity. This is important because dementia can often lead to a decline in creative thinking.
One study found that seniors with dementia who read regularly had higher levels of cognitive reserve than those who did not read. This means that they were better able to compensate for the cognitive decline that is typical of dementia.
Reading might also bring dementia patients to express themselves creatively. This is important because dementia can often lead to a loss of communication skills. By reading regularly, they are prone to higher levels of verbal fluency than those who don't.
Socialization and Isolation
To sort of continue the previous point, reading might also bring dementia patients to express themselves creatively. This is important because dementia can often lead to a loss of communication skills. By reading regularly, they are prone to higher levels of verbal fluency than those who don't.
Social isolation, being an important issue in the senior and dementia communities, can therefore be prevented or improved by reading.
Book clubs are indeed a great way to socialize and break the isolation, while being an accessible and low-impact activity.
If socializing is less of an option, books are filled with different universes, characters, families and friends that are instantly accessible and might provide an adult or senior living with dementia with a sense of social connection and belonging.
Which Books Are Best Suited for People With Dementia
Fiction books are often recommended as they provide an escape from reality and can help dementia patients tap into their creativity. However, non-fiction books can be just as beneficial. Books that are rich in information and facts can help dementia patients exercise their cognitive skills.
Some recommend revisiting books and stories from their childhood, or stories that were defining in their life to engage with their core memory.
You might consider starting with books with a lot of images, as they help maintain the reader's focus and stimulate word-to-image associations for longer-term memory.
Some might be used to reading the newspaper, which is a great option as it combines reading and staying up-to-date and connected to the outside world.
Reading has many benefits for dementia patients, from reducing stress and promoting calm, to providing a creative outlet and cognitive stimulation. It is also a great way to socialize and prevent isolation. When choosing books for dementia patients, consider fiction for its ability to help tap into creativity, or nonfiction for its cognitive benefits. Whatever the book choice, reading can be a great way to improve the quality of life for dementia patients.