Most people living with Alzheimer’s can still read. We learn to read at an early age, and the act of reading is closely tied to long-term memory. Research has shown that the ability to read is retained by most people living with dementia.
The problem is that much of the reading material produced today can be complicated and confusing. Modern design is busy. Newspapers and magazines use small type to cram more information on pages. Advertising is intentionally distracting, if not deceitful. For someone living with dementia, reading a modern magazine can be frustrating or even overwhelming.
We wanted to create something different. We designed a magazine called Joyful Memories to provide a familiar and comfortable experience for people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
That means there are some things not included in our magazine. Certain elements might be okay in typical magazines, but they simply get in the way when you’re designing a dementia-friendly magazine.
Things Not Included in Our Dementia-Friendly Magazine
Advertising – We don’t include ads, because we don’t want to distract readers. We don’t want to draw attention away from the editorial content. We want to give our readers the time they need to make sense of the words and pictures presented to them. We also don’t include ads, because we don’t want readers to buy things they don’t need. Too much advertising preys on elderly people, including people living with dementia. We want families to feel safe leaving our magazine with loved ones, not worried that they will be pressured or tricked into buying something. In fact, there’s a related element you won’t find in our magazine …
Telephone Numbers – We don’t include any phone numbers. This magazine entertains and informs, but it does not encourage people to seek out additional information from other sources. Instead, it encourages connections with personal memories and emotions. For the same reason, we don’t include website addresses. Well, we made one little exception … on the back cover, we included the Songs & Smiles logo and a line that reads “Please visit songsandsmiles.com for more information.” We intentionally put that line in smaller type so as not to draw attention, but we wanted it there so families could find us and order new issues. Speaking of new issues, we also don’t include …
Subscription Information – We don’t include subscription cards or, in fact, subscription information of any kind. We don’t want a person living with dementia signing up for something or paying for something in advance. Sadly, deceptive tactics have been used to sell magazine subscriptions to older and vulnerable people. We want no part of that. We want friends and family members to purchase individual copies of our magazine to share with or send to loved ones. We will let people know when new issues are available, but we will never sell magazines we have not yet produced, and we will never offer automatic renewals.
Small Print – We don’t use small type in our magazine, at least not for words intended to be read and enjoyed. We use a little small type for some photo credits and a bit of housekeeping information on the back cover. Other than that, we use larger type with plenty of space between lines, creating an easy and comfortable reading experience. We also use high-contrast color schemes throughout the magazine, with most of the text in black on a bright white background.
Continued on Next Page – We never require our readers to turn the page to continue a story. In fact, we don’t stretch any content into the next column. We want readers to engage with thoughts and ideas without interruption.
Current Events – We don’t include news about current events. Instead, we celebrate people and moments from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. We also focus on timeless values and things of interest to people of all ages.
Publication Date – We don’t include the publication date on the cover. The content is timeless, and we don’t want to distract from that. In fact, we don’t mention any dates more recent than the 1970s.
These are just a few of the things not included in our dementia-friendly magazine. What we have included is interesting and entertaining content, designed to spark moments of joy and connection.