Reading Material for Persons Living With Alzheimer’s

Feb 20, 2020 by

Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder, affects an estimated 5.5 million Americans. Some of the symptoms include memory loss, confusion, mild cognitive impairment, and issues with movement. One would think that this would stop someone from carrying on as they would have before their diagnosis. It could be assumed that physical and mental faculties would decrease to such a state that reading through the Alzheimer’s stages would be impossible. But that’s not the case.

Scientific research has shown that keeping the body and mind active can help prevent and halt the progression of Alzheimer’s. So while full-body movement and mental faculties will be impaired, it’s important to encourage exercising the mind and body throughout the stages of this disease. In terms of mental fitness, Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from reading a good book. Here are some reading materials suggested for each stage of Alzheimer’s.

  1. Early-stage reading: No distinct change. While memory loss may begin to pop up from time to time in these early stages, reading should not be entirely impaired before or just after a patient’s initial diagnosis. A patient can continue to read the same books that they’ve been reading, whether that be a James Patterson thriller or New Revised Standard Version Bibles. More complex writing might become more of a challenge, but there’s no harm in going back a few chapters to refresh your memory. And by working one’s brain and continuing to read complex texts, a patient could safeguard themselves from some of the negative effects of the disease in later stages.
  2. Middle-stage reading: A steadier decline in reading ability. After someone progresses into the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, they may notice a steadier decline in their ability to read. This does not happen with everyone, and everyone’s changes differ. However, this is the stage where a steadier decline is more often noticeable. So, if the scientific article or complex literary analysis does not hold your attention in this phase, take a step back and try some lighter reads. A nice memoir or a favorite book from your teen years may help you to remember more of what you’re reading. As the disease progresses, it’s important to keep the patient mentally active, whether that be through reading, writing or playing games. So anything enjoyable and mentally stimulating would be beneficial during this phase of Alzheimer’s.
  3. Late-stage reading: More disinterest in reading. Though someone with late-stage Alzheimer’s may read from time to time, it becomes less common as the disease progresses. In general, the ability to comprehend stories and communicate with others becomes more difficult in this stage of the disease. But the patient must continue to read and work on comprehension skills, as this is shown to improve the patient’s overall quality of life. To keep things simple and work on memory, reading letters or emails from family members out loud and working on remembering their content could benefit someone in this phase. Though disinterest will settle in as reading becomes more difficult, stimulating the brain has shown to reduce beta-amyloid accumulation. When beta-amyloids form and create plaque build-up in the brain, it seriously progresses the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is, unfortunately, an irreversible process that’ll take a lot of functionality away from the diagnosed patient. However, there are ways to slow down this process, especially when it comes to mental activity. Stimulating the brain through reading, writing and playing games will ensure the disease progresses at a slower rate. So no matter what stage a patient finds themselves in, they should work with medical professionals to maintain their mental fitness.

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