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Classics adapted for readers with dementia

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/11/2016

Katherine Mansfield's Short Stories is among four literary classics that have been adapted for people living with cognitive impairments like dementia.

Capital and Coast District Health Board psycho-geriatrician Dr Sally Rimkeit says the goal is to revive the pleasure of reading.

"It's about helping people re-discover the joy of doing something they once loved, especially those who have been avid readers," she said.

Dr Rimkeit developed the idea with applied linguist Dr Gillian Claridge, who is dean of the Institute of the Pacific United New Zealand.

They set up a small publishing company, Dovetale Press, which has also produced adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and a selection of Poetry for the Restless Heart.

Dr Rimkeit said the books, to be launched on Thursday, followed a pilot project aimed at understanding how barriers to reading could be reduced.

"The results of the pilot indicated that people living with dementia, even severe dementia, maintain a sophisticated command and appreciation of language," she said.

"Readers enjoyed the original style and rhythm, and didn't want the text oversimplified like a children's book, which can be demeaning."

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