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Is Reading Good For Dementia

Break Up Blocks Of Text Using Bullets Bold And White Space

What is dementia? Alzheimer’s Research UK

Chunking can make information easier to process. It helps most people. It can be particularly helpful for people with short-term memory difficulties. 

  • ‘I hate it when people try to squash everything on to one page. I find it much easier when they leave white space, put titles in bold, separate sentences out and use bullet points.’

Books Written For Older Adults With Dementia

By Steve Darley 9 am on August 3, 2017

Living with dementia does not mean your senior loved ones reading ability is lost forever. He or she can still enjoy reading books independently during the early stages of the disease. Even when cognitive decline worsens, your loved one may want you to read to him or her. Here are some appealing and appropriate books for seniors with dementia. 

Turning To Books To Grasp The Most Ungraspable Disease

By Sandeep Jauhar

When my family moved to the United States in 1976, the country was in the midst of what could be called the Great Alzheimers Awakening. Research conducted that decade suggested that dementia, far from being rare, was actually one of the leading causes of death in American society just behind heart disease and cancer.

Since that time, as more and more of us survive into old age, that finding has taken on the texture of fact. Today, most everybody knows someone with dementia. By the midpoint of this century, the condition is expected to afflict more than 15 million Americans and more than 100 million people worldwide, likely overtaking cancer as the second most common pathway to death. In polls, older individuals say they fear dementia more than cancer. It is more feared than death itself.

Lewis Thomas, the physician and essayist, called dementia the worst of all diseases. No doubt my mother would have agreed. Even when it was clear that my father had developed dementia, she never uttered the word Alzheimers, the most common type. The only time she mentioned the name of the disease was when she first asked me to take my father to a neurologist. As with most people, dementia evoked for my mother a visceral fear. The loss of control and social stigma, the eventual total dependency and need for institutional care: This was indeed worse than death.

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Making Reading Accessible To People With Dementia

Image: Nathalia Bariani

Nada Savitch is a befriending and safeguarding specialist who is working with us to develop the induction for organisations taking part in Reading Friends, our new UK-wide befriending project funded by The Big Lottery. As part of her work with Innovations in Dementia, she worked with people with dementia to enable them to give their input into the development of the programme.

Reading is viewed as a simple pleasure by so many people: as well as being an enjoyable pastime, it can be empowering, help you find out information and stimulate debate.

For most older people, reading continues to be a source of entertainment and inspiration. Developments such as audio books, large print books and electronic books mean that even when we start developing problems with eyesight or dexterity, the world of reading is not shut off from most people as they get older.

However, for some older people, reading can become frustrating, a challenge or a source of anxiety. Once a solitary pleasure, reading can begin to remind them that they are alone. For people who are developing dementia, it can bring other challenges.

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What are the Symptoms of Advanced Dementia? (with pictures)

We live in an age where we can spend hours bingeing on TV box sets or surfing social media. But despite these distractions, reading remains a popular pastime.

There’s still a huge market for novels, with bestsellers like Paula Hawkins thriller The Girl on the Train able to sell around half a million copies in a year in the UK alone.

We know that reading is good for us as it improves our literacy, but what other benefits does it offer?

Read Also: What Is Early Onset Dementia

Some Types Of Cocoa/chocolate

Chocolate may be one of the tastiest ways to reduce the risk of dementia. Multiple studies have associated cocoa and dark chocolate with a lower chance of cognitive decline, according to a 2017 review. The important clarification is that dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, generally is going to provide the most boost to your brain.

Reading In The Late Stages Of Dementia

People in the late stages of Alzheimer’s typically appear less interested in reading, although they may occasionally read a few words out loud. The ability to communicate verbally in the late stages usually declines significantly, so it’s possible that the person could be reading more than he appears to be.

Some people in the middle-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s seem to enjoy paging through a familiar magazine from when they were younger, or from their career. Others may enjoy listening to someone else read out loud, or looking through a book together.

Another comfort for some individuals with dementia is to have a few of their favorite books nearby. For people who love to read, even holding a favorite classic or religious book in their hands may bring comfort and peace.

Read Also: How Many Caregivers Are Caring For Parents With Dementia

What Are The Different Types Of Dementia

Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.

The five most common forms of dementia are:

  • Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
  • Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
  • Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
  • Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
  • Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.

How Reading Books Helps Fight Alzheimers Disease

Screening for Dementia 3: Patient Assessment

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimers, a progressive brain disorder that little by little damages a persons thinking and memory. A person starts to develop Alzheimers when amyloid plaque grows on the brain-destroying the connections between nerve cells. Slowly a person begins to forget things, has a hard time absorbing information, and can have trouble with decision making.

Researchers and scientists cannot confirm as to why these changes in the brain would occur. Common risk factors include aging and genetics. Other factors that attribute to developing Alzheimers are poor diet, lack of exercise, and cardiovascular problems. As to whether or not Alzheimers is preventable is still up for discussion. What doctors and scientists do know are ways to help with cognitive decline. Eating right and exercising regularly are always advised. Other ways to help with cognitive decline are to stimulate the mind with exercises like reading.

A study conducted by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago set out to discover clues of Alzheimers. The study followed a group of 294 men and women, most of which were in their 80s. These participants completed a series of exams that tested their memory and thinking throughout the last years of their lives. From the data, researchers collected, they found just how critical reading is for the brain.

Read Also: How Do You Treat Someone With Dementia

Tips For Cutting Down On Alcohol

  • Set yourself a limit and keep track of how much youre drinking. 
  • Try low-alcohol or alcohol-free drinks.
  • Try to alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Take advantage of particular dates and events to motivate you. For example, you could make a new years resolution to drink less.
Risk factors you can’t change

Discover how age, genetics, gender and ethnicity can affect your risk of developing dementia.

Brain Exercises For Dementia Patients

Robin Schiltz Caregivers

The brain might not be a muscle, but it responds to training the same way the muscles in your body do when you lift weights at the gym. If a senior in your life is suffering from dementia and losing more and more of their memory with each passing day, it doesnt hurt to try some brain exercises . Which exercises are recommended?

Here are some brain exercises for dementia patients:

  • Try a memory matching game
  • Do a puzzle
  • Fill out a crossword
  • Play Sudoku

If youre looking for more suggestions on which brain exercises are best for dementia patients, youve come to the right place. Whether its your senior parent, a grandparent, or another loved one whos going through cognitive decline or dementia, these exercises create great bonding opportunities.

Lets get started! 

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Engaging Dementia Or Alzheimers Patients In Their Favorite Topics

Each person has their own hobbies and interests. It can be quite engaging to talk to your loved one about their favorite sport teams or topics. To facilitate this, you might even consider watching videos with them about their favorite sports team, public figure, or favorite topic.

Engaging with dementia or Alzheimers patients in their favorite topics has numerous benefits such as making them feel valued, helping them reconnect with their youth, and even stimulating positive discussion.

Reading And Writing Can Have Powerful Effects On Delaying Dementia And Improving Cognition And Memory For Seniors It Is Never Too Late To Start

Number of people diagnosed with dementia hits record high

Mental decline is almost universal for people as they become age. As we grow older, parts of our brains shrink. Blood flow decreases and inflammation goes up which impairs our cognitive health and memories.

Studies have shown that reading and writing can improve memory and possibly help prevent dementia.

A study of 15,000 seniors were studied for a span of five years. None of the patients had dementia at the onset of the study but did so as the study went along. Being Patient, an organization that reports on Alzheimers, summarizes the conclusion of the study as follows:

Dementia risk was significantly lower among those who reported daily participation in intellectual activities, like reading books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as playing board games. The benefit was independent of other health problems, lifestyle factors , demographics and socioeconomic status, according to researchers.

Other research also shows that reading in old age can reduce memory decline by more than 30%:

Research on the effects of brain-stimulating activities back up the memory-boosting benefits of reading. The 2013 study, , found that life-long readers were better protected against Lewy bodies, amyloid burden, and tangles over the 6-year study. Reading into old age also reduced memory decline by more than 30 percent, compared to other forms of mental activity.

According to research, books with images tend to have the greatest impact for people with dementia.

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What Are Some Good Activities For Dementia

There are various activities for dementia that may help individuals in their daily life, including cultivating a hobby of interest, musical therapy or card games that promote mental stimulation. Those afflicted with mild dementia symptoms may find that activities which invoke recollections of the past are helpful in keeping their mind alert. Interacting with pets can also prove to have therapeutic effects for dementia patients.

Caregivers can help find activities for dementia patients, whether they are in the stages of early onset dementia or are moderately affected. Often this can be as simple as choosing past times that are well-suited to the individual’s personal likes and preferences. For instance, if the individual with dementia enjoyed a longtime interest in coin collecting, but gave it up due to struggles with his condition, helping him ease back into his hobby can have a positive effect. Often dementia and depression are related due to inactivity, which is why rekindling a former interest can be beneficial.

Pillar #1: Regular Exercise

According to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease by up to 50 percent. Whats more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimers and other types of dementia by stimulating the brains ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.

Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimers in half.

Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimers disease and dementia. As well as protecting your head when you exercise , balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.

Read Also: How Do You Know If You Have Dementia

Reading In The Early Stages Of Dementia

When you are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or related dementia, you can most likely continue to read without a problem. You might occasionally experience some difficulty with remembering everything you’ve read, especially if the material is unfamiliar. You may also need to go back to re-read some information to improve your comprehension of what you’re reading, but the skill of reading will most likely remain intact in the early stages of dementia.

Risk Factors For Dementia

Caregiver Training: Communicating with a Client with Dementia (Late Stage) | CareAcademy

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition.

Some dementia risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. These include:

  • age: the older you are, the more likely you are to develop dementia. However, dementia is not a natural part of ageing
  • genes: in general, genes alone are not thought to cause dementia. However, certain genetic factors are involved with some of the less common types. Dementia usually develops because of a combination of genetic and “environmental” factors, such as smoking and a lack of regular exercise
  • lower levels of education

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How Does Brain Activity Help

Studies of animals show that keeping the mind active may:

  • Reduce the amount of brain cell damage that happens with Alzheimer’s
  • Support the growth of new nerve cells
  • Prompt nerve cells to send messages to each other

When you keep your brain active with exercises or other tasks, you may help build up a reserve supply of brain cells and links between them. You might even grow new brain cells. This may be one reason scientists have seen a link between Alzheimer’s and lower levels of education. Experts think the extra mental activity from education may protect the brain by strengthening connections between its cells.

Neither education nor brain exercises are a sure way to prevent Alzheimer’s. But they may help delay symptoms and keep the mind working better for longer.

Williams, J. Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline, Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments No. 193, April 2010.

NIH News: “Mental Exercise Helps Maintain Some Seniors’ Thinking Skills.”

Wilson, R. Neurology, September 2010.

Meng, X. PLoS One, 2012.

Alzheimer’s Foundation: “Prevention,” “Stay Mentally Active.”

AARP: “Age-Proof Your Brain.”

Maillot, P. , March 2012.

Smith, G., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R., Mahncke, H., Zelinski, E., A cognitive Training Program based on Principles of Brain Plasticity: Results from the Improvement in memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training Study, Feb. 2009

What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.

Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.

There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.

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Learn Something New Every Day

Get out of your regular routine; try something new. It can challenge your mind and stimulate brain stem growth.

  • Take a new route on your daily walk. Walk in a new place, with different scenery, different sights to see.
  • Try a new recipe. Experiment with something exotic or foreign like vegetarian Indian food or a Moroccan tagine. Or just cook something you dont usually make, like a cheese soufflé.
  • Learn a new word every day. Read the dictionary! Share the new word with someone. It will help you remember it.
  • Gather new information. Listen to a daily podcast or a favorite news show. Write down a new fact or idea and share it with someone.
  • Travel virtually. Choose a different city in the world every week and spend 30 minutes a day, learning what you can online about it. Not only will it take you away from your usual routine, but you will travel around the world, visiting faraway cultures, sights and sounds all from the comfort of your own home!
  • Its never too soon to start. Researchers note that a lifetime of engaging in these cognitively stimulating activities can enhance brain health and help defer the risk of Alzheimers. If you remain curious about life and continue to learn new things, your brain will remain active and challenged. As the old adage goes: if you dont use it, you lose it.

    Be Physically Active And Maintain A Healthy Bmi

    Pin on Alzheimers and dementia

    The review recommends physical activity and healthy eating behaviors in order to achieve a BMI in the 18.5 to 24.9 range, which is considered normal weight. You can calculate your BMI here.

    Adults aged 65 and over should make sure they are not underweight and closely monitor any unhealthy weight loss, which can be an early predictor of Alzheimer’s disease.

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    Pillar #4: Mental Stimulation

    Its important to continue learning new things and challenging your brain throughout life. Whether youre looking to prevent the onset of dementia or delay its progression, when it comes to your brain the key is to use it or lose it. In the groundbreaking NIH ACTIVE study, older adults who received as few as 10 sessions of mental training not only improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months after the training, but continued to show long-lasting improvements 10 years later.

    Activities involving multiple tasks or requiring communication, interaction, and organization offer the greatest benefits. Set aside time each day to stimulate your brain:

    Learn something new. Study a foreign language, practice a musical instrument, or learn to paint or sew. One of the best ways to take up a new hobby is to sign up for a class and then schedule regular times for practicing. The greater the novelty, complexity, and challenge, the greater the benefit.

    Raise the bar for an existing activity. If youre not keen on learning something new, you can still challenge your brain by increasing your skills and knowledge of something you already do. For example, if you can play the piano and dont want to learn a new instrument, commit to learning a new piece of music or improving how well you play your favorite piece.

    Follow the road less traveled. Take a new route or eat with your non-dominant hand. Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways.

    Final Thoughts On Cannabis For Dementia

    As things stand, none of the traditional dementia treatments come close to offering a cure and do little other than provide temporary relief with a great number of risks attached.

    Research into marijuanas effects on dementia is still in its embryonic stages but early signs are good.

    There is a possibility, albeit a small one, that cannabis could actually reverse the onset of dementia; what an extraordinary discovery that would be.

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    Improved Focus And Concentration

    In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day.

    In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people , keeping an eye on twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This type of ADD-like behaviour causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.

    When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the storythe rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail youre absorbing.

    Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work , and youll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

    Additional information: if you find staying focus hard and re trying to improve your focus, its possible youve been doing it wrong.

    Key Tips For Caregivers And Families To Encourage Reading

    Caregiver Training: Communicating with A Client with Dementia (Early Stage) | CareAcademy
    • Read alongside people with dementia.
    • Choose reading materials wisely: Books with photos, clear, large text, and humor work best.
    • When reading, write down notes about the plot for easy review.
    • Make sure books and newspapers are accessible in the home.
    • Write daily notes for those with dementia in short, clear handwriting.

    This year, occupational therapists at Fundació ACE in Barcelona, Spain put these tips to use. The team initiated a group-reading activity at their drop-in centers for people with mild dementia.

    At first, our members were not capable of reading a whole book alone. Through this guided activity they have returned to enjoy reading, said Guitart.

    Every time members started a new reading session, an occupational therapist reviewed the plot to bring them up to speed and reduce any frustration. Maribel Vera, an occupational therapist at the Fundació ACE Day Care Unit, said this strategy can easily be replicated by family members and caregivers at home.

    While reading, it would be useful to write down notes in a notebook on the events that take place in the story, so that each time they pick up the book they can check the notes. This way, they will avoid the feeling of not knowing what they are reading, or losing the plot, said Vera.

    Guitart and Vera suggest selecting reading material that is most appropriate for each stage of dementia.

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    Newspaper Or Book Reading

    Reading is a mentally stimulating activity that just about any senior can participate in. Depending on the stage of the disease, a dementia or Alzheimers patient might not either understand or remember everything they read.

    Asking dementia or Alzheimers patients about what they read can help, but the act of reading is in itself quite helpful. Reading books helps patients use their imagination more while reading newspapers helps them connect to the community better.

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