Enjoyable reading for People with Dementia

Public article

By Jane Verity © Dementia Care International

People who have dementia enjoy reading simple, one-line sayings such as affirmations and life wisdom, which seem to feed their souls and lift their spirits. They also respond to riddles and jokes with a smile and a laugh, and proverbs bring the joy of recognition.

Even people with severe dementia, who communicate mainly through actions and facial expressions, show joy in reading or having  sayings read to them.

Here are some examples:


  • ‘I am safe and I am free.’
  • ‘I stand here with pride.’
  • ‘My feelings are important.’

Life Wisdoms:

  • ‘The most important thing in life is to keep breathing.’
  • ‘The best knowledge comes from inside.’
  • ‘Forgiveness is an act of the heart.’


(Jokes are extremely culturally specific and may need to be adapted to suit individuals.)

  • ‘How do you make an orange turn over?…Tickle its navel!’
  • ‘What did the puppy say when it sat on the sandpaper?…Ruff, ruff!’
  • ‘What has fifty heads and no brains?…A box of matches!’


  • ‘United we stand – divided we fall!’
  • ‘As you sow…so shall you reap!’
  • ‘A watched pot never boils!’

Here are some suggestions on how to use these sayings:

  1. Create a ritual around mealtime where people can take turns to read ‘Today’s Saying’.
  2. Sit down with the person who has dementia and read some of the sayings. Ask them, ‘How does that make you feel?’ or ‘What does this make you think of?’
  3. Share a special saying to make that person feel loved or to give them a laugh.