Wednesday 21st September marked World Alzheimer’s Day, a campaign led by Alzheimer’s Disease International to raise awareness and champion the rights of people with dementia. Every sixty-eight seconds, someone in the world develops dementia.
In the Reading Rooms people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are of course a big part of our audiences. We’ve witnessed many amazing sessions highlighting to us the difference literature can make in these situations. Poetry once memorised in school is a big hit, and we’ve had numerous ad hoc recitals of beloved classics such as W.B.Yeats’s ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ or William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’.
In parallel, we’ve read more contemporary poems such as Mary Oliver’s ‘Wild Geese’ or Grace Nichols’s ‘Give Yourself a Hug’, receiving powerful feedback regarding the sensory layers in these texts. When it comes to prose, Tove Jansson’s multi-textured ‘Summer Book’, exploring the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter on a remote island in the Gulf of Finland, is simply quite wonderful; but the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde are another go-to collection when it comes to readers living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, ‘The Happy Prince’ being a firm favourite.