Alzheimer's disease affects many abilities, including memory, communication, behavior and thought processes. Typically, people with Alzheimer's in the moderate or middle stage can still read, but this ability will gradually decline through the progression of the disease.
Since Alzheimer's disease affects every individual differently, reading capabilities will vary. Some individuals who were avid readers prior to diagnosis, and enjoyed reading as a lifelong habit, may be able to continue to read, too.
In early stage Alzheimer's, reading skills are pretty much intact, although there may be difficulty in comprehending everything he or she has read, especially if the material is unfamiliar. The caregiver might have to assist in these instances by rereading the information back to the affected person.
In the moderate or middle stage of Alzheimer's, most individuals will be able to read, but there's a further breakdown in comprehension and in remembering what he or she is reading. That being said, some people with Alzheimer's often enjoy turning pages of a familiar book or magazine. Others might enjoy someone reading aloud to them or looking through a book together.
Reading does not particularly interest those in the late stages of the disease, though he or she may occasionally read a few words aloud. Large-type reading materials can be used to assist later-stage Alzheimer’s patients to continue reading, though the ability to communicate verbally in the late stages usually declines significantly. They may hold a book or magazine upside down and look like they are intently reading, a practice that should be allowed and respected.
Having books or magazines nearby that are relevant to the affected person can offer great comfort. For those that enjoyed reading, even holding a favorite classic or religious book in their hands brings a sense of security and peace.
Questions about Alzheimer's disease or related disorders can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, owner of Dana Territo Consulting, LLC, at email@example.com.