Role of Reading to Reduce Cognitive Decline

by Melrose Gardens

Reading and Improving Cognitive Function and Slowing Memory Loss

With increasing life expectancies, there is correlating research associating a rise in mental disorders like dementia, Alzheimer's, and other such diseases with cognitive decline. Changes in mental functioning, such as the slow pace of cognitive processing, are common in normal aging. However, each person is different, and our levels of memory retention differ as well. We need methods that have been shown to reduce the process of memory deterioration. Various factors are helpful for this purpose, especially leisure and intellectual activities like reading books, playing music, exercising, and having more social engagement.

It is never too late to start reading and attain knowledge. Many people with memory loss retain their ability to read, but may lose focus and get bored. They may decide to quit reading because of the effort involved in staying focused on the reading materials at hand.

Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis 

This hypothesis states that psychosocial functions help maintain and build brain cells and communication between brain cells. Later in life, these interactions help compensate for the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's and dementia - thus helping to preserve memory and thinking skills.

The "reserve" concept is often defined as our ability to maximize use of our brain networks and cognitive components. This may include involving additional brain regions to compensate for deteriorating brain changes with advancing age. 

Different studies have indicated that activities involving the brain can help to make new brain cells and connections. Researchers have found increased brain volume in those people who engaged in various cognitive activities such as studying for tests or quizzes, decoding puzzles of all types, solving riddles, reading novels, and performing brainteasers.

The main point is, if we stimulate our brain sufficiently, then our brain develops neuronal connections which prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Essential Tips to Promote Reading

Essential Tips to Promote Reading

  • Read alongside people with dementia
  • Choose reading material that aligns with the individual’s interest
  • Make sure the reading material is easily accessible
  • Jot down notes while reading for better review, recall and retention
  • Make sure to use clear handwriting while note taking

Suggested reading material will vary depending on what the individual is cognitively capable of doing. 

1. Readings in Early Stages of Dementia

It is not difficult for people to continue reading in the early stages of Alzheimer's or dementia without any issues. However, they may sometimes experience difficulty remembering what they have read, especially if they are not as familiar with the subject matter. The person may have to go back to re-read some information to improve their understanding of what they are reading, but most reading skills in the early stages of dementia remain the same.

For patients in the early stage of dementia, short stories, short novels, and news articles are best.

2. Reading in Middle Stages of Dementia

Most people can still read at this stage, but generally, this ability gradually diminishes over time. This assumption, however, may change, as some people with middle-stage dementia ,who had a lifelong habit of reading may enjoy this activity. However the ability to understand, or remember, what they are reading often seems to be diminished. They may encounter difficulty in understanding the meaning of what they are reading. And of course, when memory is impaired, recalling what they have just read becomes more of a challenge.

If the time comes when they seem to lose some interest in reading, try to encourage them to read other more straightforward and more fascinating books. In the middle stages of dementia, this is a good tactic. For patients in the middle stage of cognitive decline, short poetry books are also an enjoyable option.

Effective memory care tips

3. Things to Read in Advanced Stage of Dementia

Some types of frontotemporal dementia, such as semantic dementia and primary progressive aphasia, first affect language skills, resulting in changes in the ability to read or understand. People at this stage usually feel less interested in reading though they can sometimes read some words aloud. The ability to communicate orally usually decreases significantly in the final stages, so the person reads something to pass the time. Some people between the middle and late stages of Alzheimer's enjoy paging through magazines they have known since childhood or from their careers. Others may hear someone else reading aloud or looking at a book together. Famous Pronouns and resonating lines are suitable for patients in an advanced stage of dementia.

Here at Melrose Gardens assisted living facility, we understand that reading is merely one defense against decline in memory and cognitive functioning. Frequent reading activities have long been associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline in the elderly at all levels of education. At Melrose Gardens assisted living in Los Angeles, we utilize a wide range of modalities to develop a living plan individually focused to help our residents retain their autonomy. As you have read this, please call us now to arrange a tour of our beautiful facility. Let us demonstrate how much we care, and how we can help you with your search for assisted living in Los Angeles.

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