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Celebrating Four Decades of Quality Care ~ 1982 - 2022

Reading to the Elderly: The Hidden Benefits

Reading can open passages to difference adventures. In this post, we will review the benefits of reading and list a few short stories to read aloud to the elderly.

Reading to the Elderly Benefits

When you find good books to read aloud to the elderly, you will quickly notice the hidden benefits. When your loved one is an audience member in reading to the elderly volunteer activities, their mood and overall brain functioning will increase over time. These benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Improved brain functioning
    • You probably know that frequently using a specific muscle will keep it physically strong. But did you know that also applies to your brain? Reading throughout your life has been shown to increase brain functioning and memory retention later in life. Even if your elderly loved one was not an active reader at a young age, discovering literature later in life can still have a beneficial impact.
  • Delayed onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia
    • Furthermore, reading can provide a challenging brain activity to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Dr. Zaven Khachaturian, senior science adviser to the Alzheimer’s Association, says these activities build a reserve of neuronal connections, making it take longer for the Alzheimer’s process to destroy enough neurons for these symptoms to arrive.
  • Enhanced memory
    • Regular mental workouts through reading can strengthen your brain’s neural network, making it more receptive to memory retention and learning. According to Neurology, a study of 294 seniors discovered that those who engaged in these workouts had slower rates of memory decline compared to those who did not.
  • Reduced stress
    • When you find stories to read to the elderly, you will notice that there’s no better way to unwind. According to research from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, it only took six minutes for the heart rate and muscle tension of participants to relax once they started reading.
  • Reduced anxiety
    • According to research from the University of Toronto, frequent readers are less likely to make impulsive decisions and are more likely to think before reacting. This helps individuals be more open to changes in life and experience less anxiety over life’s uncertainties.
  • Improved sleep
    • Research from the Mayo Clinic confirm that creating a bedtime ritual can signal the body it’s time for sleep. Introducing reading into this routine induces sleep better than your television or electronic devices, which are known to keep people awake longer or even disrupt their rest.

Short Stories to Read to the Elderly

Stories can provide pathways to more conversations with your elderly loved ones. Here are a few examples of short stories to read to elderly individuals:

  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
    • This classic tale covers themes such as overcoming guilt and working through past experiences.
  • The Tuesday Night Club by Agatha Christie
    • A great mystery can help promote problem-solving and this short story also features an aging detective who draws on her own experiences to solve cases from guests at a dinner party.
  • The Looking Glass by Anton Chekhov
    • This story explores the evolution of marriage and should be relatable to anyone who has overcome the challenges of a long-term partnership.
  • The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro
    • Based on the popular folk song, this tale explores the hardships of dementia, including faltering relationships, financial burdens, and physical ailments.
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
    • Aging adults may believe their lives aren’t as exciting as they once were but this story shows the main character, after daydreaming to escape life’s monotony, realizing his life is better than he thought.
  • Three Friends in a Hammock by April Ayers Lawson
    • This story follows three friends sharing their past experiences — some of which are horrific — and they realize that speaking with friends takes some weight off their shoulders.
  • Signs and Symbols by Vladimir Nabokov
    • While it may seem like a children’s fable, this story explores complex experiences such as growing older, chronic illnesses, and death through allegories and overtones.

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