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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on May 5th, 2016

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Rediscover the Benefits of Reading with Your Aging Loved One

Aging & Caregiving

Could reading benefit your aging loved oneDid you know that May is “Get Caught Reading” month? This national initiative of the Association of American Publishers aims to encourage readers of all ages to discover -- or rediscover -- the joys of reading. Need even more incentive to encourage your aging loved one to pick up a book this spring? May 8th kicks off a week-long “Reading is Fun” celebration. The takeaway for caregivers? There’s no better time than right now to encourage seniors to read, and/or to share their love of reading with others.


Reading Matters

While the importance of promoting reading among children gets the majority of attention, benefits abound for seniors who read, too. In fact, reading is linked with a number of positive outcomes for older adults, including enhanced memory retention, sharper decision-making skills, stress reduction, better sleep, and even the delayed onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Not to mention the fact that it’s pleasurable, too.

Unfortunately, reading can get harder as we age. In fact, one Pew Research study reveals that a quarter of Americans over the age of 50 experience age-related roadblocks to reading. Luckily there are some simple ways to overcome these obstacles. E-reading devices with back-lit screens and adjustable font sizes are particularly useful for seniors with vision problems, as well as for those suffering from arthritis and other challenges to dexterity.

For older adults who may not be comfortable with technology, adaptive methods -- such as large print books, reading lights, magnifiers, book holders, and audio books -- can facilitate the reading process.

If your aging loved one suffers from cognitive impairment which impedes his/her ability to read, try reading together. This one-on-one form of interaction is not only enjoyable, but can also be a means of deepening your connection.

Another easy way to rekindle your aging loved one’s interest in reading? Find the right reading material. Both Goodreads and Amazon offer roundups of books suitable for seniors. Or stop by your local library and ask the librarian for recommendations.

Sharing the Fun

Seniors who are already avid readers can benefit from sharing their love for reading with others. From joining a book group to volunteering as a reader at a local preschool, these activities offer invaluable opportunities for older adults to engage with and influence the world around them. In addition to fostering social interactions, volunteering to read to children can also boost your aging loved one's mood while adding an essential sense of purpose and meaning to life. Don't have a book club for seniors or preschool reading program in your area? Look into starting one of your own.

One of the most amazing things about books? They open doors to experiencing new things and different ways of thinking. For seniors, in particular, getting lost in a good book is more than just an entertaining experience; it can also be a liberating one.

Key Takeaways

  • Reading can offer profound physical, mental, and emotional benefits to older adults.
  • If your aging loved one struggles to read due to age-related changes, adaptive technology can help.
  • Finding the right reading material can directly impact your aging loved one’s desire to read.
  • Seniors can participate in May’s reading observances through a number of activities, such as joining a reading group or reading to preschoolers.

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.