Jenny Barlow has always had a passion for helping others and for reading and writing. Four years ago, she learned how to combine these passions to benefit adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Jenny began work as a wellness assistant at Friendship Village of Bloomington, where she interacted closely with residents with memory loss. At that time, she was also earning her master’s degree in writing for children and young adults.
Every day, she saw the residents with dementia using different forms of therapy to help with memory, including art and music therapy. She came up with the idea that music and art is a form of storytelling, so why couldn’t reading be therapy, too? Turns out, residents reacted very well to reading and hearing stories, and they especially enjoyed the pictures often found in children’s books.
Today, residents are benefiting from all types of therapy, and Jenny is continuing to bring storytelling to the Bloomington senior living community. She’s now doing lectures on the benefits of children’s books for seniors with Alzheimer’s, and even won an award for her unpublished book, Helping Grandma Adeline, which was inspired by her own grandmother.