In our clinical work over the years, our multi-disciplinary team has observed that many older adults with memory challenges are disheartened by their apparent inability to read. After identifying the barriers our patients encounter when attempting to read, we experimented with a variety of modifications to text, language, graphic layout, content and illustrations to increase the readability of printed material for seniors. Applying these adaptations, we developed a collection of short books/articles that most memory-challenged seniors can enjoy independently. Readers’ responses to these books have been overwhelmingly positive.
Wondering how our adapted reading material would be received by a broader range of professionals and seniors, we brought our books to a variety of retirement communities as a pilot program. We in-serviced care partners regarding how to optimize the residents’ reading experiences. During multiple care community visits, we observed care partners and residents using the books. Residents, staff, volunteers and family members of each community endorsed the books enthusiastically and provided helpful input for further improvements.
Our pilot program confirmed our belief that there is an enormous need for reading material designed to compensate for the particular visual, attention, memory and language deficits of elderly seniors. Although conventional newspapers, magazines and books are inaccessible to most memory-challenged adults, their love of reading - and their need to read - remain strong.
Based on research and a recognition of people’s universal desire to read, Reading2Connect was born.
Susan Ostrowski, MA, MS, CCC-SLP