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The Benefits of Reading for Older Adults


An african senior man sitting on a couch reading a book.

Settling down with a good book can offer the aging mind more than just an enjoyable story or a form of entertainment. What actually occurs behind the scenes when indulging in your favorite novel, informational book or even magazine is actually more than what meets the eye. There are several beneficial factors that come with reading, from reducing stress and enhancing sleep to sharpening cognitive function and improving decision-making skills.


It can reduce stress & anxiety…

It only takes 6 minutes of getting lost in a good book to reduce heart rate and relax muscle tension which means the mental benefits can actually help improve the quality of life in older adults.


Reading has also been shown to reduce anxiety. A study found that people who read frequently are less likely to act impulsively and think more before reacting to things. This means that seniors who partake in this enjoyable hobby can better process information, be better prepared for life’s uncertainties and lessen their anxious thoughts.


It can enhance the quality of sleep…

By creating a fool-proof bedtime ritual that can help signal your body that it is time for rest, reading in bed has been considered a great addition to any bedtime routine. It is calming and stress-reducing, which can help put your mind at ease right before you catch some Z’s. Swap out the telephone or TV with a good book because studies show electronic use before bed could actually disrupt a person's sleep and keep them awake for way longer than wanted.


It can sharpen cognitive function & improve memory…

Studies have shown that older adults who have spent time engaging in mentally stimulating activities, like reading, during their lifetime have shown a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to those who did not take part in such activities. Regular mental workouts from reading can help strengthen the brain's neural pathways.


Reading can help seniors practice short-term recall of everyday events while also training the brain to be more receptive to learning new information and memory retention.


It can improve decision-making skills…

Challenging the brain is one of the most important tasks older adults should practice often. Reading is a great way to improve analytical thinking and the power of reasoning needed to solve everyday problems. The term used for this is called fluid intelligence and this ability declines as we age. Aging adults who frequently challenged their brain did better on the fluid intelligence test than the seniors who seldom took part in challenging their brain.


Additionally, it can delay the onset of dementia…

Dementia is a cognitive disease that affects the memory of older adults. Although some forms of dementia are genetically triggered, there are forms that can be triggered from poor mental stimulation. Research suggests that adults who have taken part in mentally challenging hobbies, such as reading, are less likely to develop Alzheimers. It is thought that brain challenging activities can build a reserve of neuronal connections which will take the disease longer to destroy enough neurons for the symptoms of Alzheimers to emerge.


Reading is a fantastic hobby for many reasons as mentioned above. Reserve some time each day to settle down with a good book, magazine or newspaper and let your brain get some exercise and reduce any leftover stress from the day. Your body and mind will thank you.


 

Explore more lifestyle articles: here! Or, discover healthy recipes that will help support the health of your mind and body: here!


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