Bibliotherapy for Caregivers and Elderly
Many find inspiration in the written word
By Marion Somers, PhD
Many elderly can find inspiration from the written word. Bibliotherapy originally started as an outlet for those who could find comfort in the Bible and other religious readings. Some who actively practiced religion used it, and some who used to be religious often “found” their religion again through the readings. Bibliotherapy has recently been expanded to include all forms of the written word, since reading has proven to be such a powerful positive influence on those in need. I like to focus on readings that have calming subject matter for the soul, whether poetry, short stories, or lengthier literature.
Many caregivers of the elderly can receive guidance and answers from reading as well, so I like to use bibliotherapy for both groups. Reading allows someone to expand his or her horizons. It can also give an elderly individual something new to discuss with others. People often read the same thing and interpret a different meaning, so it can be exciting to debate material with others. This kind of mental and social interaction is very important for all of us especially the elderly.
About a decade ago, I had a client who was a writer who was also a victim of blindness. He was so discouraged that he did not want anything to do with reading or writing. He did not even want to listen to books on tape. I asked who his favorite writers were and then found a few passages I thought might inspire him. Sure enough, the material stirred some good memories, and he responded in a very positive way. Eventually, his aide read to him for an hour before he went to bed every night. This increased his quality of life tremendously, and that is what all caregivers should strive for.
A version of this blog appeared on Dr. Marion's Web Site.
Published September 14, 2012