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Why Should Seniors Become Avid Readers?

By Nancy Delwaide, 9:00 am on

Many seniors enjoy reading in their free time, and some even set aside time every day for this activity. However, they likely read for sheer pleasure without even realizing how healthy it is for them to curl up with a good book on a regular basis. Oakville, ON, in-home elder care experts discuss a few of the many advantages for seniors who consider themselves avid readers.

Alleviates Stress

Books allow seniors to escape their everyday worries and enter an alternative world created in the author’s imagination. A study conducted by the University of Sussex concluded a mere 6 minutes of reading could reduce stress by up to 68 percent. Lower stress levels can decrease the risk of obesity and hypertension, relax tense muscles, and lower the perception of pain due to chronic illnesses.

Refines Brain Function

When seniors read, they create new memories and exercise specific neural pathways in the brain. Reading involves a complex coding process that utilizes parts of the brain used for other purposes, such as vision, associative learning, and language. Over time, this coding process makes it easier to retain new information. A 2014 study published in Brain Connectivity concluded reading reconfigures the left temporal cortex, the portion of the brain responsible for language comprehension. As a result, reading can be a valuable form of rehabilitative therapy for seniors experiencing language deficits due to a stroke or other neurological condition. Reading also triggers a phenomenon called embodied cognition, which makes it easier for seniors to put themselves in the shoes of another person and be more empathetic and compassionate.

Reduces the Risk of Dementia

Brain-stretching activities like reading can actually delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Researchers from Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center determined seniors who kept their brains busy had a 15 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than those who did not regularly stimulate their brains. The researchers also studied the brains of these seniors after their deaths and found the brains showed less evidence of plaques and lesions, which are common indicators of dementia.

Reading isn’t the only activity that can relieve stress and boost brain health. At Home Care Assistance, we offer a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses mentally stimulating activities to slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. In addition to Alzheimer’s and dementia care Oakville seniors can count on, we also offer specialized Parkinson’s and stroke care. For more information on our at-home care services, please call (905) 337-1200 to speak with one of our friendly Care Managers.

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