Take a look at how care home libraries and research are highlighting the huge benefits of having a community library. In particular, these reading groups are helping residents with dementia.
Libraries in care homes
Care homes who have a community library are finding that having this facility and promoting activities such as reading groups is transforming the lives of their residents, improving both memory and mood. It is also being noted that shared reading in groups reduces resident isolation and stimulates senses, including residents who suffer from dementia.
Group reading in a care home library is an ideal communal activity. It encourages residents to interact with others, and requires them to use their imagination. Also, the books they read will usually provide a talking point, something we all know older people love and can often feel they've lost.
Benefits backed up by research
Research published by the University of Liverpool's CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society) has found that while any reading helps sharpen the minds of older people, shared reading in groups offers particular benefits. Participants reported uplifted mood, better concentration and better long and short term memory. Read more about the research.
The CRILS's research also identified other benefits of shared reading, including reduced levels of agitation, with older people feeling a greater sense of being connected to a wider community. Participants in the research said group reading and the atmosphere of a library helps them to gain insights into their own identity, as well as the world view of others.
One reading-group member living with dementia, who took part in the research remarked, "Isn’t it funny? We come in with nothing and go out with all these thoughts".
Further studies have found poetry to be particularly beneficial to older people. The Reader Organisation's 2014 report, Read to Care, focused on poetry for reading groups, particularly for people living with dementia. It found that poetry engaged emotions and triggered memory. As part of the research, participants, even with those with severe dementia, were prompted to recall poetry learned by heart at school.
What Do Residents Think?
"I asked him if he liked the poem ‘If’, and he replied ‘I grew up with it. I read it at school, I used to have a set part of the day each week put aside for poetry’"
Project Worker; quotation from dementia participant attending men’s reading group at a care home
Bridging the gap between generations
In many care home libraries, children’s books are also provided as a way to strengthen the bond between generations. Residents will take one of the children’s books from the shelves to read to their grandchildren when they visit, creating that homely, family atmosphere that every home desires.