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MEMORY LANE: Croxley resident launches book designed for readers with dementia

 Published on: 21st June 2024   |   By: Sophia Sheera   |   Category: Uncategorized

A gerontologist from Croxley who specialises in ageing has published the first in a new series of books aimed at helping people with dementia, enlisting the help of the Alzheimer’s Society and actor Bill Nighy.

After he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017, Brian Singleton began to struggle with reading.

Keen to help the former bookworm continue enjoying one of his greatest passions, dedicated son Matt began writing the first of his Cognitive Books series – as well as setting up a publishing house – aimed at supporting people with dementia.

Looking back at… The Beatles uses rhyme and rhythm to help with recall, as well as illustrations and audio tracks. Also included are famous pictures, such as album covers.

Matt explained: “Each of these things is like a little signpost designed to help readers remember things they knew before.”

The format of the book also caters for readers who may struggle to follow a book-length narrative. Each page works as a stand-alone story, meaning that readers can pick up the book at whichever chapter they like.

Once he had come up with the idea of designing a book to counter the symptoms of dementia, Matt applied to a scheme run by the Alzheimer’s Society. The Accelerator Programme provides access to experts and funds to people developing service innovations which aim to better the lives of those with dementia.

Having earned himself a place on the programme, Matt started to work with scientists and people with dementia to shape his first book, Looking back at… The Beatles.

“We know that the book brings joy to a lot of people who are living with dementia,” said Matt. “We’re now working with academic partners who can hopefully demonstrate the benefits that we’re already seeing.”

Matt then onboarded a team of designers and illustrators, as well as famed actor Bill Nighy, who read the voiceover for the book.

Reading along every stage of the way was none other than Matt’s father, Brian. In fact, says Matt, the bookaholic has taken quite a liking to Bill Nighy’s recording.

“My dad sometimes can’t remember things from the last 10 minutes or even the last 10 years, but he’s been able to recall whole passages from the book,” said Matt. “One day, we had the audio recording for Looking back at… The Beatles playing, and he started speaking along.

“Along with my children, it’s the biggest achievement of my life that he can recite part of the story.”

Not long after Matt’s first book was published on April 15, the gerontologist-turned-author was invited to explain the concept behind his series on BBC Breakfast. As part of the interview, the BBC played a recording of Brian recalling lines from the book while sitting with Matt.

“It was very emotional the first time that it happened,” confessed Matt. “The kids were amazed.”

The second in Matt’s Cognitive Book series, Looking back at… The 1966 World Cup is due to be published on June 10, as CROXLEYnews goes to print. The book includes a foreword written by Sir Geoff Hurst MBE, the England footballer who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 final, and the voiceover for the corresponding audio track is read by iconic football presenter Clive Tyldesley.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way my dad has approached dementia,” shared Matt. “Being able to help him continue his love of reading is something I’m very proud of.”

To order any of the Cognitive Books series, visit www.cognitivebooks.co.uk/buybooks

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