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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.

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