Bookend generations come together through story
We generally think of reading aloud as something that is shared between an adult and a child; but imagine that the adult is an individual living with dementia . . . perhaps a grandparent. Society often focuses on what people with dementia can no longer do, but researchers have shown that most older adults with years of experience as parents, or grandparents or teachers do not lose their caring roles with dementia. These roles are preserved. What’s more, reading aloud is a preserved ability in dementia. Many individuals, even in the later stage of disease, enjoy reading to others.
With some adaptations, it is possible for older adults with mild to moderate cognitive or memory difficulties to enjoy reading a short story to or with a child. The goal is a reading partnership that supports both the older adult and the child. At Montessori Images we created Stories for Older Adults™ with accommodating features that allow older adults to participate fully in the read aloud. The stories feature large-print text, direct story lines, and full-page, high-contrast color illustrations all in short story form. The stories have intergenerational themes that support a meaningful read aloud for both the child and the adult.
The benefits are enormous. For the older adult, frustration and isolation are replaced with engagement and human connection. Reading a story aloud to a child is a loving and caring act. The opportunity to express care and concern for younger individuals contributes greatly to the overall well-being of older adults. What’s more, children can be terrific reading partners. They are spirited and genuine in their reaction to story and enjoy the physical closeness of story time. By sharing a story with a child, older adults are filling a meaningful social role that enhances their own self esteem, and bridges generations.