Reading Aloud to Elderly Loved Ones

Reading Aloud to Elderly Loved Ones

One challenge we have heard from family caregivers is keeping our aging loved ones entertained and engaged throughout the day. Reading is one of the best activities for exercising the mind. Unfortunately, elderly people are often unable to read for themselves. They may not be strong enough to hold a book or may have trouble seeing the print if their vision isn’t what it used to be.

Reading aloud to seniors can help:

  • Stimulate memories
  • Spark conversation
  • Inspire creativity
  • Enhance mood
  • Improve concentration
  • Increase social interaction (if read in a group setting)
  • Provide comfort

When deciding what to read aloud, ask your loved one what type of stories, news, and poems they enjoyed reading. If she or he was never interested in reading books, see if you can spark interest with books about specific people, hobbies, politics, religion, or current news.

  • Classic Literature
    Classics may be rewarding to read aloud as your loved one may remember reading them when he or she was young. This may be a springboard for conversation. After reading, you could ask questions like, “How old were you when you read this book?” or, “How did you feel about this character when you read this book before?”
    Some options might be Treasure Island, The Secret Garden, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, and Anne of Green Gables.
  • Chapter Books
    Consider chapter books if your loved one is capable of following the story over multiple sessions of reading aloud. Make sure to recap the setting, characters, and plot each time you sit down to read the next chapter(s). Some great authors of engaging chapter books are: Arthur Conan Doyle, Roald Dahl, Carol Keene, Laura Ingalls Wilder, J.K Rowling, and Charles Dickens
  • Open-Ended Stories

    Sometimes, in a good book, the author fails to tie all of the loose ends. This gives readers a sense of “what happens next?” even after the big plot is resolved. It engages the readers’ imaginations to complete the “rest of the story.” This can be a great option for a read aloud with a senior who’d love to talk more about what happens next. Two books we recommend that have a collection of short, open-ended stories are The Open End: Short Stories by Rhett Whitaker and Open Ended Stories by Velder & Cohen.

    If stories are just not something your loved one is interested, other suggested reading material includes:

    • Poetry
    • Newspapers’ columns
    • Biographies
    • Personal letters
    • Travel brochures
    • Magazines
    • Cookbooks

    A moment of reading aloud has benefits for readers, as well as listeners. It is a shared activity that provides feelings of closeness and attachment. So, grab a book and start reading with someone! If you struggle to find time for recreational activities with your loved one, consider hiring a personal care assistant to provide care and companionship for your loved one at home. Call our main office at Passionate Private Duty for more info on in-home care throughout the Pingree Grove area: 847-975-3950.

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