6 Benefits of Reading for Seniors
Getting lost in a page-turning book isn’t just an enjoyable hobby for seniors; it also can enhance their mental and emotional health. Whether it’s poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, research indicates that avid readers may experience many health benefits. If you haven’t cracked a book open in a while, here are a few reasons to curl up with a good read:
- Improves brain functioning
- Reduces stress
- Helps combat anxiety
- Boosts happiness and life satisfaction
- Increases your empathy
- Helps you fall asleep
Why Seniors Should Read
1. Improves brain functioning
You may know that using muscles frequently helps keep them strong, but did you know the brain also works the same way? Reading throughout your lifetime helps flex your mind, which can improve basic brain functioning and memory retention later in life. Some researchers believe that reading (and writing) may also help delay Alzheimer’s disease. Even if you weren’t an active reader when you were young, discovering a love for literature at any age can have this beneficial impact on your brain.
2. Reduces stress
Another one of the benefits of reading for seniors is that it may reduce stress. While there are many ways to relax, few are as versatile or immersive as reading. Whether you are at the beach or park, visiting your grandchildren, or relaxing at home, reading is a great way to decompress. In fact, research shows that grabbing a good book may reduce stress levels by as much as 68%.
3. Helps combat anxiety
Research indicates that reading can help seniors – and everyone – cope with uncertainty and anxiety. Frequent readers are less likely to make sudden, impulsive decisions, and more likely to think before they react. This thoughtful approach often helps people be more open to change and new situations in life, and thereby experience less anxiety over any uncertainty.
4. Boosts happiness and life satisfaction
The more you read, the happier you may feel. One study found that adults who read just 30 minutes a week reported feeling 20% more satisfied with their lives than those who did not. Spending time with a book you truly enjoy can increase your level of happiness and make all the difference in how you reflect back on your day.
Looking for a new book to enjoy? Check out Goodreads’ list of books for seniors here.
5. Increases your empathy
Research shows that reading books, especially works of fiction, can increase empathy and emotional intelligence if you truly enjoy and engage with the story line. Repeat exposure to new situations, beliefs, and ideas through literature gradually strengthens your mind’s tendency to connect and empathize with others at any stage of life.
6. Helps you fall asleep
Seniors can often find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep than when they were younger. Reading before you go to bed at night can make falling asleep a little easier because your brain signals to your body that it is time to relax and wind down. However, stick to the traditional hardcover or paperback instead of using an e-reader or other electronic device that can actually keep you awake longer and negatively impact the quality of your sleep.