KARLSRUHE — Both of Annette Röser’s parents suffered from dementia, and she remembers a precious means of connecting with their hidden world was music. Her mother’s eyes would light up when Röser played folk songs or "Memories expand=1] of Heidelberg."
Röser's experience with her late parents led her to found SingLiesel Verlag, a German-language publisher specialized in books for people with dementia, reports DPA. Based in the southwest city of Karlsruhe, this specialized publisher uses sing-along and experiential books aimed at relatives who want to build a bridge to their parents or grandparents.
The publications were created with the input of a certified music therapist and other professionals in the field, tapping into a growing market of those who live with or care for some of the estimated estimated 1.5 million people in Germany alone who suffer from dementia. DPA notes that by way of comparison, there are 1.9 children in Germany under the age of three.
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People in the beginning stages of dementia can mostly still read quite well. However as the disease advances, the ability to read goes, which is why another German-language publisher, Munich-based Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, specializes in books that can be read aloud to patients – compendia of short stories that take no longer than five minutes to read and highlight working life, hobbies and travel.
The binding on a SingLiesel book is illustrated to look like a primer from the 1940s. The illustrations inside are reminiscent of that era as well. Instead of a lot of text there are drawings like the ones in children’s books showing things familiar to generation 75-plus, like the black dial phone and handwritten letters rather than emails.
Röser tells DPA that it’s important for books aimed at dementia patients to have pop-ups and other features that can be touched, like in one volume where a reader can turn a wheel at a mill. The underlying hope is that these features will trigger memories and that patients will become engaged with the people around them.