Reading and Dementia

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Reading and Dementia

A Day on the Wind SeekerAs part of my work with Montessori for Dementia, I have encouraged care communities to provide large print reading material for people with dementia and to establish daily reading groups.  Reading Groups are a great way to give people an opportunity to socialize, take turns and contribute to a group without putting pressure on the participants to think of something to say. As part of a collaborative project with Montessori Images, a company dedicated to the benefits of reading aloud, I have helped to create an interactive read-aloud book for people with dementia featuring large print and colorful, high-contrast illustration.


One way to organize a reading group is to provide the same reading material to each individual.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare the environment by choosing a well-lit, quiet, comfortable spot in the living room or around a table. Make sure you have an amplification device handy if individuals in your group have hearing impairment.
  2. Invite individuals by asking if they would like to join the reading group.
  3. Give individuals a choice of two topics to read for the day, or ask which story they would like to read first and hold up two options.  Avoid using children’s books.
  4. Ask a participant to pass out reading material to each person.  This could be a book or short story printed in large type.
  5. Ask the group follow along in their own book while you read aloud
  6. Read the first paragraph or page aloud, then turn to the person next to you and ask if he or she would like to read.  Pass along the microphone so that everyone in the group can hear the next reader.  You may have the hold the microphone for the person or use one on a small stand.
  7. Continue through the story, asking each person to take a turn until the story is complete.
  8. Take time during the reading to respond to all comments and questions about the reading
  9. Give all participants an opportunity to express their opinion about the reading.
  10. Depending on the length of the material and the attention span of the group, choose the next story and continue as before.
  11. Thank everyone for joining you and ask for a volunteer to collect the materials when you are finished.
By | 2017-09-10T22:21:03+00:00 September 6th, 2017|dementia, Montessori|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.
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