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Potluck: Caring Through Reading

Iowa City

Stories to Remember

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner
and Mary Gottschalk

On our best days, any of us might forget why we went into a room. But for those afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other mental deficiencies, memories are more elusive and become even more precious when recovered.

A partnership between the Iowa City Public Library and Iowa City Hospice is designed to help those who suffer from these mental blocks remember. The Caring Through Reading initiative enables volunteers to visit Johnson County nursing homes and adult daycare centers each month to help residents make connections through stories, songs, and pictures.

“Everyone is looking for connections,” says June Braverman, who helped organize the volunteers and has been a volunteer reader herself. “Pets and farms are two of the most popular topics. The stories volunteers read spark memories of childhood or early adulthood, causing many to want to tell their own stories.”

“Volunteers start with readings and questions provided by the library,” explains Kara Logsden, Iowa City Public Library community services manager. “They may add poems, pictures, or songs.”

“Many of the people we read to don’t have a lot,” adds Braverman. “If we can communicate with them on some plane, if we can bring five minutes of peace or brightness into their lives, that’s a pretty good day.”

The volunteers gain more than they give, Braverman believes. “It’s important to offer these people who might be our neighbors or relatives a way to connect. Then to see a sign of recognition — it’s very meaningful to volunteers.” — C.B.

Photo © Froese


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