By Susan Ashby
When we’re young, we wind up with lists of books at our feet to read for school. As we age, though, reading often becomes less of a hobby and more of a chore. Combine that with hectic lifestyles and reading is pushed beyond the back burner. Sometimes it can be hard to pick reading back up as we age. For example, did you know only 69 percent of seniors read at least one book in 2015?
Unfortunately, with that drop in readership comes missed opportunities to reap all the benefits reading can offer. From its ability to improve sleep to its potential to help with depression, reading is vital to how we live our lives.
Here is just a short list of all the things reading can do.
Reading has been shown to be a major stress reducer. After only six minutes of silent reading, tension and stress begin to melt away. The reader’s heart rate also begins to slow. On average, this reduces stress by nearly 70 percent, beating out other calming activities like listening to music.
On top of that, it’s an easy and quiet thing we can do while receiving senior home care. That means it won’t cause anyone else undue stress like music can.
Reading at bedtime can help us prepare for sleep in a great way. When we’re reading in bed, we’re avoiding the bright lights from electronics that can keep us awake. That, combined with releasing stress, will have you in dreamland faster than it takes to count sheep.
Work with an assisted home health caregiver to set up an easy-to-follow bedtime regimen. That way, reading at night just becomes one part of it.
Be a Forever Learner
When we read, we learn more about the world around us. Whether it’s historical, biographical or even fictional, being exposed to new ideas can help us improve ourselves and our lives. It also exposes us to new ideas and more improved research.
Reading is also a great way to learn a second language. While it may be challenging, it offers its own rewards. People who speak more than one language–just the basics, even–can push their risk of developing dementia off nearly another five years.
Flexes Your Empathy Muscles
Have you ever sat down and gotten completely ingrained in a fictional book? Has one ever changed the way you look at the world? If so, it’s likely due to flexing your empathy muscles. The emotions authors pull from readers can transport us to another time, place or even galaxy. Reading can help us see things from another person’s point of view and be more open-minded.
Stimulates Your Brain and Imagination
Reading can really stimulate your imagination and give your brain a workout. There is nothing quite as good as reading to give your brain a boost. It requires a unique mix of the parts of your brain used for seeing, reading and more. Increasing blood flow and neural activity in these parts of the brain is a great way to exercise it like we might other parts of our body.
If you’re dealing with some rough situations, books make a fantastic escape. Many seniors find reading gives them the ability to relive fun eras, explore new galaxies and learn more about the world around them.