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Registered User
Jan 19, 2011
North East England

Just a small question, I think. It puzzles me that while I know that mam can still read (she reads newspaper or magazine headlines, junk mail, posters, road signs etc out loud as though they are vitally important) yet she doesn't make any effort to read for her amusement or occupation.

I knew I was going to be looking after her for a bit the other day, and I thought she might like to look through our local nostalgia paper, so I bought one and left it lying on the sofa where she could easily get it. She did notice it, picked it up, read the title and the headlines, and agreed that yes, she'd like to have a look at it, thanks, then promptly put it down without even opening it. A couple of reminders that it was there just made her do the same thing twice more, so I gave up, eventually realising that she wasn't going to read it. I thought she might have liked to look at the photos, even if she didn't read the articles, but she made no effort with it at all.

It's just puzzled me and I wondered if anyone else has had the same experience?

It would certainly help dad if she could occupy herself with a magazine for half an hour occasionally, but it's obviously not going to happen any more and I wondered why.


Registered User
Sep 17, 2010
I wonder whether it's because her "reading" is now restricted to letter-processing (which she'd do with a part of her brain not affected by the illness)? She might be able to string letters together correctly into words but these words may not have meaning for her.

For example, I might fluently "read" a page full of complicated medical words - but I wouldn't have a clue what the page was about and I certainly wouldn't read such material for amusement.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
My husband is still able to read but has no interest in holding a book, a magazine or a paper. Not a day would pass without a newspaper and now although he can still read, he doesn`t even show any interest if I read the paper to him.
He even reads subtitles off the television and it never fails to amaze me, especially as he has had cataracts for years and doesn`t wear glasses any more as he finds them irritating.
It is impossible to understand this illness.


Registered User
Apr 5, 2010
Mum can read out a sheet of printed information perfectly but not be aware what it means or that it refers to her.

She used to read all the time but now likes glossy picture magazines which she flips through. Books seem beyond her now as does anything on TV with a plot.


Registered User
Jan 20, 2011
You might find the nostalgia paper or a magazine would be of interest if you were looking at it with her and discussing it. Probably just one item at a time, maybe a story involving animals, or something that used to be a hobby for her. My mum won't read a newspaper or watch TV but if someone gives her a clipping with a big picture attached she will read the few lines and look at the picture a lot, and keep it by her chair to keep going back to.

Sadly newspapers and books appear to lose their entertainment value for many people with dementia because they cannot process or retain the information (as others have said). Pictures can be more effective. I have bought my mum several illustrated children's books and she loves these.


Registered User
Jun 30, 2010
My uncle cannot read any more but has tried to in the past. I gave him a present of some very special bath salts and he was intrigued and looked at the label but said it was in Arabic. I thought at first that he needed new glasses. At that time he was able to understand and recognise pictures of familiar landscapes and talk about them in some detail.

Bumble B

Registered User
Apr 20, 2011
My Mum is beyond coping with newspapers or women's magazines,which she used to love.

I've found the type of children's magazines that are mainly about cute animals very useful. She enjoys looking at the pictures,and they seem to give her pleasure without needing much in the way of thought.

They're not cheap,at around £3 or so,but most have some type of free gift attached.I now have a lovely collection of brightly-coloured pens,pencils,rubbers and tiny notebooks !


Registered User
Jan 19, 2011
North East England
Hi everyone, thank you for all your thoughts and suggestions as to why my mam shows no interest any more in reading. It hadn't occurred to me that although she might be able to read the words that she wouldn't understand them enough to make sense of them or to get any pleasure from it. What a shame, I can't imagine not being able to pick up a book and have a good read, it's one of my favourite things.

Mam was always fascinated with history - as I am too - and will still get very enthusiastic if I start talking about Henry VIII or Mary Queen of Scots, for instance, so maybe I should explore something along those lines, something simple that she might enjoy. Food for thought. Thank you all.


Registered User
Aug 3, 2010
South Ribble
Hi College Girl

My mum can't manage magazines any more. I get her the Radio Times - she always liked that because it acted as a kind of perpetual calendar for her, telling her what day it was. Now, she no longer is able to read and enjoy it, but I like to think it's a kind of familiar comfort to her. Sometimes I hold it up with a photo of someone she likes on a page, like Jeremy Paxman or Martin Clunes, and she will smile. Sometimes she will even attempt to take the magazine and hold it herself with her one good hand.

She also likes magazines about the Royal family like William and Kate so I buy her those - lots of pictures and not much text. She will gaze at them for ages on the same page but seems to have lost the idea of turning pages.

Good luck xx


Registered User
May 24, 2011
My mum cant read for pleasure now.

She has kept the same paperback by her bed with a bookmark in it for 7 months. The bookmark never moves. She takes the book to day care with her knitting (which also never progresses).

I think although she can read and understand single words, she cannot process sentences.
She 'rereads' the Daily Mail constantly, and yet if I say, "What d'you think of that story about....?"
She looks at me in amazement and says "When did that happen?"
She cant knit as she cant follow the pattern instructions.
Must be very frustrating, although, to be honest, I think she is even getting past caring now.


Registered User
Jan 5, 2011
Mum is the same.

She will not let me cancel her paper delivery, yet when I tidy I can tell that the papers have not even been opened.

There is a page in our local called "memory lane" where they happened to have printed a pic of my late father and some work mates which was taken in the 1960's. I pointed this out to her,(once again the paper hadn't been touched) and she was able to recognise dad. But when my brother mentioned it to her the next day. she had no idea what he was talking about.

Also with the TV we have come to the conclusion that it is just moving pictures in the corner, and that she cannot comprehend the dialouge or follow the plot. She will also have the volume either at 42 or 0 !!:D:p


Registered User
Apr 6, 2010
My MIL is the same - used to read, but not any more. Hubbie used to buy her the TV times so that she knew what day it was, but even that, after a while, became redundant.

One of her pleasures, apart from listening to music, is her tv, the use of which brings its own problems :D She does however like Countdown and will attempt to make words or work out the mathematical problems, sometimes with quite startling results, although its a bit hit and miss.

We went round one day and she said that two lovely men had visited her. Naturally this rang alarm bells, as at that point she was still mobile and could answer the door, and we had problems with fuel companies ignoring the 'do not knock at this door' notice.
We needn't have worried, it turns out she had been watching the snooker!!


Registered User
Oct 16, 2011
For years my dad and I went to the library once a month, got a whole pile of books and we then shared them and devoured them. 2 years ago, he stopped reading the books though he still goes with me to the library once a month. He always got the Telegraph delivered but about a year ago, he cancelled his subscription. He just gave up reading. That was the first 'change' that we saw in him because he had been a keen reader like your mum. But like your mum, he reads every raod sign (then talks about them constantly as though they are the most important thing ever!!) and I put Sky news on the TV each morning and he does follow most of the news stories although he occasionally gets confused. I figure the news programmes are as good as a book/newspaper for now. He does do jigsaw puzzles and he does crosswords in books, maybe you could get some simple ones for your mum, see how she does with that? Anything that keeps her brain a little active might help. But we can't force them and if they dont want to do anything other than watch TV, we have to go with that, sad as it is to watch.

I hope you can find something that will entertain her.


Registered User
Jun 10, 2009
West Sussex
Same here. When mum first moved in I had to buy her the Daily Mail each day (what is it about dementia and the Daily Mail ?? ). Not only did she read it, but also did the crossword. It would keep her amused for hours as she would re-read it time and time again.

Then it got to the point where we could give it to her and within 5 minutes it would be returned as she had read it, and the crossword has long been forgotten.

She still likes to be given it daily, so I confess that now I just keep an old set of Monday to Sunday and just recirculate them. She opens a couple of pages, puts it down and it is then ignored.

She has also lost all interest in TV and may watch 10 minutes of news at lunchtime and ? Eggheads in the evening, but soon turns off the TV. Even Sister Act no longer keeps her entertained for more than a few minutes.

All she really wants to do now it talk, but that is totally focused on where she lives and where we live (same place).


Registered User
Feb 28, 2011
sad, isn't it?

With my aunt, who had Parkinson's, a sign that things were serious was when I noticed that the Telegraph was lying around untouched each day.

now the same thing is happening with mum. It makes me feel down when I see it sitting there, still pristine. But mum uses it to check what day it is, so I guess it's still fulfilling some purpose.

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