New collection of books from the Cedar Rapids Library designed for adults with dementia

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The Reflections collection is specially designed for adults with dementia, but is designed to look like mainstream books. (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

When Dot Hinman’s husband Gene developed dementia, she struggled as a caregiver. She felt isolated and didn’t always know how best to help him.

Gene had been professors of geology at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, and the couple were lifelong readers. But as his dementia progressed, he began to have trouble with the books he had always loved.

“He was so frustrated, because he just couldn’t follow the plot of a book. He would be fine while he was reading, he was putting it down, then he couldn’t remember when he was picking it up again,” Hinman said. “He liked to read. We both loved the feel of the books in our hands.

She wanted him to be able to keep reading, but the only books she could find that he could follow were for children.

“He was really insulted when I brought home some children’s books,” she said. “He was a college professor. It’s really degrading to find that the only thing you can read is a little children’s book. He called them baby books.

This experience inspired Hinman to make a donation to the library which enabled the purchase of books for a new collection, called the Reflections Collection.

“The books aren’t too long, with bigger characters and illustrations. The stories involve many sensory experiences rather than linear stories to follow,” said librarian Meredith Crawford.

The Reflections collection includes kits with thematic photos, activity cards and DVDs. They are designed to spark conversations and memories between people with dementia and their caregivers or other friends and family members. (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

They are specially designed for adults with dementia, but are designed to look like mainstream books.

“They allow anyone to pick up and read a book that feels like any other book, but without the challenges of adult fiction in general,” Crawford said.

The library has five Reflections books, available for consultation in kit form. They focus on the four seasons, as well as one on a visit to the library.

Remembering the 1950s (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

The Reflections collection also includes kits with thematic photos, activity cards and DVDs. They are designed to spark conversations and memories between people with dementia and their caregivers or other friends and family members.

For many people with dementia, memories from the past, such as those from childhood or young adulthood, are often easier to recall than more recent events. The kits have themes like “Remembering the 1950s”, “The Homemaker”, “Farm Reminiscence”, “The Handyman”, “The Great Outdoors” and more.

Although her husband died three years ago, Hinman said helping others who were in the same situation as her has become a passion.

“It touched me,” she said. “I hope this will make it much easier for carers to access documents that can be really useful.”

The idea for the kits came when Crawford logged on to the Family Caregivers Center at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, where Hinman volunteers. The library was looking for ways to increase access for older patrons, which is part of the library’s strategic plan, and center staff and volunteers suggested the Reflections materials.

Center director Kathy Good, who is also director of the Chris and Suzy DeWolf Family Innovation Center for Aging and Dementia at Mercy, said after caring for her husband, Dave, for 12 years while living with dementia, she knows the importance of resources like these.

“People with dementia, especially early-stage dementia, want to be part of the community and live with meaning and purpose,” she said. “That a person with dementia can go to the library and find resources that suit them, it’s just great. »

Kits can be found in the Downtown Cedar Rapids Library on the second floor, on the first shelf in the Kits section of the Book Club. They can also be previewed and queued in the catalog by searching for Reflections Kit. Customers can reserve them for pickup at any library in the Metro Library Network, which includes the Marion and Hiawatha libraries. Curbside pickup is available for those who prefer it.

Alison Gowans is a content writer for the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

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