Reading Aloud, A Comforting and Connecting Caregiver’s Gift

March 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

Poems, nursery rhymes, hymns,  patriotic songs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Torah, Shakespeare, James Patterson or Robert Ludlow’s adventure books, Agatha Christie and W.B. Yeats…the list could go on and on. Babies to centenarians enjoy the lyrical sound of a voice reading aloud. Alzheimer’s studies show the brain light up when a poem is recited. It taps into our childhoods, our histories, our loves, our faith. We begin to repeat the familiar words thought long forgotten. What a comforting and connecting caregiving gift.

As my mother began to forget how to read and write, I would sit next to her at the end of the day and take my Daddy’s well-worn Bible and read her the Psalms. She snuggle down in the bed and I watched her arms and legs begin to relax. Her mouth would move. She knew these words, the cadence in my voice. Her face softened.

It took me back to my childhood when my mother was the reader and I was the listener. It took me back to my faith, to Sunday school, to gold stars for memorizing a passage, to the love of language and the poetics of old English. I wanted to hear the “shall’s” and “beholds.” Tell me the story of Noah, of great wars with crushing defeats and cheering victories.

I would open an old hymn book and read the words of Amazing Grace. We recited the Star Spangled Banner in the car. I sang her the lullaby’s she sang to me as a child. I found that it soothed all we couldn’t talk about. As Alzheimer’s continued to ravage her mind and she forgot the name of simple objects, of even knowing who I was to her, she still responded to Robert Frost’s line, “and miles to go before I sleep.”

I learned to let go of what I couldn’t keep. We lost parts of my mother, I can’t deny that, but we didn’t lose all of her. We still had our poems, Psalms, and songs.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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