Keith Oliver has contributed to The Reading Agency’s Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, and is an advisory group member for Reading Friends. In 2017 he was the first person in the world with dementia to address the United Nations Committee on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities. This is Keith’s story in his own words.

Why support The Reading Agency?

I have since childhood always loved reading, holding and treasuring books. Despite the fact that there was never money in our house for buying books my father always encouraged me to use the local library. Books bought as presents remain in my possession over 50 years later. Now I still read a lot but frustratingly because of my dementia I remember little of what I have read. At one time this did upset me, now I try and dwell upon the way the book made me feel, my emotional engagement with the characters and story rather than beating myself that I cannot remember the content.

And, why Reading Friends?

I 100% recognize and champion the concept of friendship connected to books and reading, especially on a 1:1 basis. I get far more out of what I read if I can talk about it with a family member – my wife or daughter usually, or a friend who shares a passion for books. This sense of sharing and connectivity is crucial.

I, like most people, have experienced loneliness and I can no longer immerse myself in solitude with a comforting book. I do need the company of someone else to sense happiness and wellness from the emotions the book is arousing.
Keith Oliver

I took part in voluntary work with the Reading Agency, Kent libraries and the Alzheimer’s Society using books with people who had dementia which precluded this project, and through this I saw how others with dementia could benefit from support in retaining their love of books and reading.

I have also spoken informally to a number of others who also live with dementia, and they like me are excited and keen to be a part of this innovative, outstanding project and they like me, see books and the Reading Friends concept as a key way to take the older generation which we are proud to be a part of, away from feeling lonely and isolated to being happy and connected.

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Support Reading Friends so that we can share the joy of reading with more people who live with dementia.

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