Pictures to Share

Pictures to ShareBritish publisher Pictures to Share started offering books for dementia patients in 2005. Their research showed that people with dementia gradually lose the ability to read traditional books, magazines and newspapers because of the complicated layouts and small print. So they developed a series of books with pictures and short texts on a variety of topics. Some of the pictures are photographs while others are paintings and drawings.

There are 18 books in the Pictures to Share catalog, with titles like Family Life, Childhood Days, and In the Garden. The pictures and text in these books are intended to spark conversation and laughter. For example, in paging through Spending Time Indoors I came across a picture of an old man with a child. The text says “My grandkids believe I’m the oldest thing in the world. And after two or three hours with them, I believe it too.”

People with dementia can enjoy the Pictures to Share books by themselves, with a loved one, or in a group setting. Excellent!


The silly news

daily-chronicleThe activity director at Mom’s memory care community usually arrives around the time residents are finishing breakfast. She greets each person by name and offers them copies of “The Silly News.” That’s her name for The Daily Chronicle, a resource available from Activity Connection.

Each edition of The Daily Chronicle includes a quote of the day, historical happenings, famous birthdays, and trivia. Click on the image at left for a larger version; you’ll get the idea.

I’ve noticed that residents of The Springs react to The Daily Chronicle in different ways. Some glance at it for a short time. Others say “No, thanks.” One carries it around with her for hours. Mom turns it over and says “It’s blank on the back.”

From my perspective, The Daily Chronicle offers something valuable to dementia patients. Even though their cognitive abilities are declining, it gives them something to read. Every day.

Public library services for people with dementia

public libraryWhat is the public library’s role in serving people with dementia? Faith Brautigam, Director of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library offers some suggestions in her article “Memory Care at Your Library.” Brautigam discusses two ways to serve this population — through programming and through staff training.

The Library Memory Project in Wisconsin is one example of programming. Participating libraries host monthly gatherings, called Memory Cafés, for those with early stage dementia and a care partner. The Brooklyn Public Library’s Words and Memories program is another one. Both of these programs seek to help dementia patients by encouraging reading, conversation, and sensory experiences.

Library staff training is also important. Brautigam mentions a project at the Chapel Hill Public Library where staff participated in special training to earn a community dementia-friendly designation that promotes understanding and respect for people who are memory impaired. The American Library Association also offers training ideas in its document “Keys to Engaging Older Adults @ Your Library.”

What services for dementia patients does your public library offer?

That all may read

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically HandicappedThe NLS has a tag line that touches me: That all may read. It’s a worthy goal.

NLS, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a program of the Library of Congress that serves people with low vision, blindness, or physical disabilities that prevent them from reading or holding the printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS offers books in braille or audio formats, mailed to your door for free, or instantly downloadable.

The NLS BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) service offers downloadable digital audio books and magazines to eligible NLS patrons. There are more than 20,000 digital books and over 40 magazines available for download, with new titles being added regularly. A big advantage of BARD over library e-book services is that there are no wait lists, limits, or due dates.

In addition to BARD, NLS offers guidance on magnifying devices, braille embossers, braille displays and notetakers, accessible mobile reading apps, and audiobook players.

In Oregon, where I live, the NLS program is administered locally by the Talking Book and Braille Library at the State Library in Salem. You can find links to all the state programs on the NLS website.

If you or a loved one are eligible for NLS, I encourage you to learn more about this excellent service.


Romantic poetry for reading aloud

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

With Valentine’s Day coming up this week, I’m in the mood for love poetry which, by the way, is excellent for reading aloud and shared reading with seniors.

If you’re in the mood too, you might want to try these three classic love poems: 1) How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning; 2) She Walks in Beauty, by George Gordon Byron; and Of Love: A Sonnet, by Robert Herrick.

Want more? Here are some suggestions for compilations of romantic poetry:

A Little, Aloud With Love – This anthology of prose and poetry was compiled by The Reader Organization, a British nonprofit that works to bring people and great literature together for shared reading.

77 Love Sonnets by Garrison Keilor – Yes, that Garrison Keilor, from Prairie Home Companion. You can sample them on his website or order from an online bookseller.

101 Classic Love Poems – A collection of poems on love and romance.

Family photo books for senior reading

Mom and familyMom has dementia, but she still knows me and we have simple conversations. We enjoy looking at picture books together. The other day we had fun looking at Anne Geddes book Little Blessings.

It occurred to me recently that I could create a photo book for Mom with our family’s photographs. It could tell the family story chronologically — the marriages, births, deaths. And it could remind us of places we lived, vacations we took, and friends we care about.

Of course the time-honored way to organize family photographs is with scrapbooks. You can keep it simple with scrapbooks or you can go crazy with themes, special papers, stickers, and more. You can add and subtract pages whenever you want. I’m not knocking scrapbooks — they’re great.

I’m leaning toward a photo book for two reasons. First, our family is spread out around the country and it’ll be easier to get them to help with the project because I can store it in the cloud. And second, we can print multiple copies.

I found reviews of some photo book services on the Safe Smart Living website and plan to get started on the project this week. I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, the toddler in the picture above is Mom, circa 1926.

Shadowbox Press offers books for dementia patients

Shadowbox PressWhen I started this blog, I thought there weren’t any books written for dementia patients. I was wrong. My most recent discovery is Shadowbox Press, a company that specializes in books and activity cards for memory impaired adults.

There are eight books in the series: Flowers, America, Bible Verses, Dogs and Puppies, Colors, Seasons, Fun and Games, and Wild Animals. Each 64 page book includes photographs paired with brief text in large print. In addition, each book includes conversation starters and activities related to the book’s subject matter.

The conversation starters are a mix of closed- and open-ended questions. For example, some of the questions in Flowers are “Have you ever grown peonies?”, “What flowers do you like in a bouquet?”, and “Have you ever been a member of a garden club?”

The activities are designed to encourage mental and physical engagement. Some suggested activities in Flowers include inspecting flowers with a magnifying glass, moisturizing hands with floral-scented lotion, and making pressed flowers.

Matt Schneider, the owner of Shadowbox Press, says his company measures their success in both customer feedback and sales figures. “The feedback we have receive from individuals and caregivers for adults living with mid and late stage dementia, has been very positive,” Matt said.

In addition to books, Shadowbox Press offers Conversation Card sets designed to promote opportunities to reminisce, recall special memories, and share stories. The three available card sets are titled Familiar Words, Nostalgic Items, and Words for Guys.

Shadowbox Press books are priced at $19.95 and the card sets at $29.95. Discounts are available when you order multiple books and/or cards. Matt noted that many libraries across the country have ordered sets of the activity books. “For individuals who don’t have the means to purchase the books, they can request their local library to buy the set of Shadowbox Press books for their community to share,” Matt said. I plan to look into this with my library.

Matt says the company introduced a new deck of Conversation Cards in early January, 2017. They might be adding new books in the future too, but nothing is planned at this time. I hope they do!