Local Libraries May Offer Free Support to Those with Dementia & Their Caregivers

Cormac Stanford

May 20, 2021

We all know that the local library is a great community-based institution that is always there for us for borrowing books, attending readings, and even for participating in interactive children’s activities, such as literacy programs, book groups, and arts & crafts. But did you know that many libraries offer myriad resources for people living with dementia and other memory loss conditions, and their caretakers?

Library Culture & Connections

Moving beyond shelving books, librarians are tasked with facilitating social and educational programs in the community, as well as organizing on-site activities at schools, senior centers, and organizations. Library culture is and always has been about making connections in the community. In fact, it’s really about fostering learning and maintaining people’s wellbeing.

If you have had a relative living with dementia or another memory loss condition (like Alzheimer’s) or are the caretaker for someone, you know that it can be a constant roller coaster. Controlling the ups and downs can be difficult, but by establishing a day-to-day routine with the person living with dementia, it is possible to minimize moments of anxiety, depression, or agitation.

One way to do this is to make a visit to your local library—many throughout the world offer support groups for caregivers and tailored activities for people living with dementia and other memory loss conditions. Some even have rotating guest speakers, like elder care attorneys or people who work in the memory loss healthcare space, to speak to a group of caregivers. In fact, there are specialized courses to learn about this population for Adult Services Librarians, Public Services Managers, and Health Librarians for Continuing Education credit offered by the Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies, a division of the ALA.

With this need in mind, there are providers and companies, such as Relish, that offer and supply customized kits with curated activities and wellbeing resources for these types of groups and “Memory Cafes” hosted at libraries. They even offer sample kits for families to take home after!

Some of Relish’s offerings include:

- Creativity with Aquapaints: Just add water to your brush and vibrant images magically appear, giving everyone the opportunity to create beautiful works of art. These aquapaints, as well as other popular adult coloring books, are staples for elder programs.

- Play with Puzzles: Spending quality time and enjoying each other’s company over a stimulating puzzle tailored to the abilities of people living with dementia is a great way to spend an afternoon. Dementia-friendly activities are a feast for the senses, get people talking, moving, and laughing together, and reinforce cognition and spatial reasoning.

- Reminiscence Fun: The power of nostalgia is proven to be essential for wellbeing in people living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and similar memory conditions. Spark memories and relive some of the best times with reminiscence cards and storytelling that are likely to start a conversation and help the person living with dementia recall cherished memories

- Brain Games: Mazes, fidget widgets, and games help keep the mind sharp, enhance dexterity, and bring a sense of calm to people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. These different hands-on and tactile activities are a great way to engage elders in a challenge that results in a sense of accomplishment once completed!

If you are a friend, family member, or caretaker of a person living with dementia or other memory loss condition and are interested in how your local library can help or support you, please visit us at . You can also view our product catalogue there or download our app for caregivers TODAY.