Posts Tagged Reading

Record or Listen to a Recordable Book

grandma's story

This is really two activities in one post, so bear with me. As you may already be familiar with, there is a new trend out there for recordable story books, generally aimed towards kids, in which a family member can read the words to a story, which the book records, then plays back. The pages are recorded separately, and the books plays each page after it is turned. It’s a great way for kids to hear the voice of a loved one who is far way (or even give mom and dad a break from having to read the same book for the 500th time!), but now there are options for older adults as well. For example, the book in the picture at the top of this post is meant to be recorded by a grandma and sent to a grandchild to tell them about their life. Certainly, a person with early stage memory loss might like doing that, or perhaps recording it and saving it for themselves for later in the disease. However, it could just as easily be recorded by a family member about the person with memory loss to help jog old memories.

There is also an option, below, in which a grandchild can record their memories about their grandparent. This may be a way to help the person with memory loss jog their memory about the grandchild. Or, if the person has more advanced memory loss, they might just enjoy hearing the child’s voice.

grandpa is special

Finally, you there are some story books that aren’t too “childish” that a person with memory loss might enjoy “reading”, such as this classic Christmas story.

recordable story book

I found the first two books at, however, toy stores, Hallmark, and of course, various online retailors should sell a version as well.

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Read an “I Spy” Book

 I Spy

These “I Spy” books are a fun way to “read” and exercise the brain for those with memory loss. The “I Spy” books come in different levels of difficulty, and in my opinion the books with “Little” in the title are the best match for those in the middle stages of dementia. The pictures are simpler, making find the objects easier, and the object to be found is both written out and shown as a picture, so even those who can’t comprehend written words can still use the picture on the left to find the same object in the photo on the right (see below for an example).

open i spy

Those in the early stages of the disease might find this activity too childish, but some may enjoy the challenge of the standard “I Spy” books, particularly those at the end of the book, which tend to be harder. They are also a great way to bond with grandchildren, so having a little one ask for help may get the person with dementia interested in participating.

The books can be purchased online or at your local bookstore. Happy hunting!

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Read Reader’s Digest

Of all the magazines in the world, why did I mention this one by name?  It’s not because I know someone who works there, or even that they’ve published one of my jokes (I’d have to send one in first).  No, it’s because it’s format is just so nice for those with dementia.  Most stories are quite short, the subject matter is generally cheery, and the font is decent sized.  Of course, lots of magazines have shorter stories, so please don’t feel like you shouldn’t give another publication a try, especially if the person with memory loss always subscribed to a particular publication.  If reading comprehension is a challenge, you can always read out loud to the person.  If a whole article is too long to keep their attention, try reading something shorter, like the jokes.  If nothing else, look at the pictures (even the ads!) and see what conversation that sparks.

Oh, and one last thing.  A subscription to a magazine you think the person with memory loss might enjoy is a great gift.  It encourages mental stimulation without being to “brain health-y”, which some people dislike.


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Read the Comics

Reading the comics is a great for people that may love to read, but are have trouble following a longer passage.  The pictures help convey meaning and the short format makes it much easier to follow the story from start to finish.  You can read comics from the newspaper or get a book of classic comic strips from your local library.  If reading it too hard for your loved one, you can read the words and let them look at the pictures.

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Listen to Books on Tape

Reading may become challenging for those with Alzheimer’s disease due to  physical changes in the brain.  However, it doesn’t mean that they should miss out on a good story.  Many website offer free, downloadable audio books based on works in the public domain (generally classics like Twain, Shakespeare, etc.).  Your local library also is a good resource for books on tape/CD. 

However, if it’s hard to get out of the house, your local library’s selection is limited, or you just want access to a larger variety of titles, people with Alzheimer’s disease who are having trouble reading are eligible to borrow free audiobooks through the National Library Service.  The best part?  These audiobooks are delivered and sent back through postage-free mail!  Per the NLS website, the following individuals are eligible for services:

  1. Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material
  2. Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.

Click here for a form your doctor fills out to certify the individual as eligible and you’re on your way! 

Those in the early stages of the disease can discover new books and re-“read” old favorites.  Those in the moderate stages of the disease might need help setting up the stereo, but can still enjoy listening to a well-known favorite or shorter stories.  Even those in the severe stages of the disease often respond positively to the soothing sounds of a voice reading to them.  Another option is to try the Bible or other religious texts on tape.  This is an especially nice option if getting up and ready for services is difficult.  Instead going out to church, why not listen to passages in the comfort of your own home?

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Look at a Remininsence Magazine

You probably know by now that people with memory loss tend to remember the past better than the present.  Therefore, pictures and stories from an earlier era are often much better at sparking conversation and memories than their contemporary counterparts.  A great source of these old pictures and stories is Reminisce magazine and website.  Visit them at  for a sampling of nostalgia from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

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