November 4

Stories to Read Aloud for The Elderly Living with Dementia


There are many storybooks that the elderly with dementia find interesting and that can contribute to improving their mental conditions. However, you don’t need to arrange a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for this job, any close relative can help with reading out stories for seniors. For instance, the book “Touching the Moon once” contains stories for both seniors and children. Experience the beauty of the world and what is special at the moment: The short stories take children and seniors on a colorful journey.

Amanda Marien read the book and spoke to the author Christiane Schuh.

Christiane Schuh works as a geriatric psychiatric specialist with older people, some of whom suffer from dementia. For these people, she has put together stories from the realities of life for reading and reading aloud. The stories can also be read with children who want to learn more about the world of grandma and grandpa.

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The stories Christiane Schuh published in her first book “Once Touching the Moon” begin with “Once upon a time…”.

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There is the story of the little girl who grows up with a strange family, works a lot and one day starts to dream of flying in a pasture. Or the story of the elderly lady whose children have moved out and whose husband has already passed away. She lives all alone in her house in a Franconian village – her best friend is her tomcat Mikesch, who understands her without words.

Or the story of little Samuel, who, holding his mother’s hand, attends the opera and is enthusiastic about all the musical instruments, recognizes the song “Great God, we praise you …” and sings along to the delight of his mother.

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Each of the 46 stories stands for itself and takes up topics with which older people, in particular, can identify. “Because of the simple, pictorial language, the stories are also well suited for people who have memory changes and can no longer be attentive for so long,” says Christiane Schuh. The Diaconal Sister works as a gerontology psychiatric specialist and as a contact person in the specialist office for caring relatives. She would never have thought that she would hold her own book in her hands.

She explains how it all came about: “For a long time I was looking for a book that contained many short stories in simple and graphic language that I could use for my work.” But neither in bookstores nor at Colleagues, she found what she was looking for. “At some point, I started to write the stories myself and then to incorporate them into group lessons with seniors.

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The feedback was so positive and my colleagues were enthusiastic too. That’s why I decided to make the stories into a book summary. I wanted other people to be able to enjoy the book and work with it or just read it,” she says.

The ideas for the individual stories come from the many conversations and from working with seniors in different groups.

“We only understand a lot in life in retrospect. This is also evident in my stories, which lovingly take the listener by the hand and accompany them into the world that one carries within,” says Schuh. “The stories can be read by yourself, read aloud or read together and inspire people to think about their lives,” she says.

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Photographs and questions to prepare the topics

For each story, there is a large photo that shows the content of the story in a colorful way, as well as a few questions to help the audience work through the topic. It is possible to look at the picture first and then read the stories, or even ask the questions first. ” Everyone determines the sequence themselves. It was important to me not to specify any steps, but to design everything as openly as possible,” emphasizes Schuh.

The stories are not only helpful when working with seniors or as “looking back memories” for relatives, but can also be read together with children, for example, to raise awareness of how to deal with older people.

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What’s there in the book

The story “Fly once …” about the little girl makes you dream. “In the past, it often happened that families had to take in another child. Back then it was very different than it is today and many seniors still know that and remember it,” says Schuh. The girl in the story is hardworking, helps with the household, and bakes bread that makes the cheeks red, as the old grandmother in the house always says. When the time came, the little girl went out to the pasture to pick dandelions for the rabbits. In the pasture, she gave herself completely to her dreams and imagined flying – until someone called her and brought her back to reality.

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Another story reflects the mother’s emotions when she held her son in her arms for the first time. “Holding your own child in your arms is something very special. I often see older women thrive when they talk about their sons. Or how caring daughters-in-law don’t know what to do if the mother only talks to her son,” she says.

Last words of Author

Each text stands for a certain life situation and invites you to think about your own life. “Some stories offer solutions, others are for people who like to sing and still others are for people who believe or are curious about it,” says Schuh.


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