It’s safe to say that most people are happy with the many new types of media we have these days. More importantly, media (for both educational and entertainment purposes) is more accessible than ever. We can stream just about any tv show or movie right at home, listen to podcasts on our phones, and play any game we want – on PC, game console, or right on our phones. With all these media options, you’d think that reading is a vanishing pastime, but the number of readers has actually increased – and who’s reading more might surprise you.
Hint…it’s not seniors.
A 2016 survey found that about 80% of respondents between the ages of 18-29 had read at least one book in the previous 12 months, compared to only about 67% of respondents aged 65 and older.
Why Reading Matters
Encouraging older adults to read more is important, and for more than just entertainment. Reading provides a plethora of physical, mental and emotional benefits.
Reading Slows Cognitive Decline
A study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that reading books and magazines, along with writing and participating in other stimulating activities, can help to keep memory and thinking skills intact. The subjects in the multi-year study, men and women in their 70s and 80s, reported their participation in reading and other mentally stimulating activities in all stages of life, and were tested for thinking and memory skills each year.
The individuals who reported they participated in mentally stimulating activities showed improved memory and thinking skills. After death, their brains were studied. The findings were that the brains of the subjects who reported staying mentally active throughout life – not just in old age – did not show the same signs of damage as those who did not report staying mentally active.
Reading Can Reduce Stress
Reading has been shown to reduce our stress levels. A 2009 study from the University of Sussex found that reading reduced stress levels by 68% – that’s more effective than taking a walk, drinking a cup of tea, or playing video games.
Reading Can Help You Live Longer
Another study found that reading can increase lifespan. Researchers from Yale University School of Public Health asked about the reading habits of participants and followed up with each one 12 years later. Overall, adults who read books survived almost 2 years longer over the 12-year follow-up than non-book readers.
10 Great Books for Seniors
If there’s an older adult in your life you’d like to encourage to read more, here are a few options to get you started. The following books are all highly rated on Amazon and are particularly recommended by older adults and their families.
Books About the Senior Experience
Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century by Jessica Bruder
Nomadland tells the story you don’t know about the Great Recession of 2008 – “From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans.” When social security benefits weren’t enough, they took to the road in RVs, travel trailers, and vans, growing into a community of nomads, going wherever the work was. Jessica Bruder traveled with them to tell their story in this New York Times Bestseller, which also inspired an Academy-Award winning movie.
2. From Age-ing to Sage-ing by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller
When he was approaching 60, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi felt an uneasiness, so he set out on a journey to understand and accept getting older. In this guide for aging adults, he shares his wisdom and experience with readers, helping them to leave anxiety and fear behind, embrace the future, and achieve their full potential.
3. The Book About Getting Older by Dr. Lucy Pollock
The Book About Getting Older is a two-for-one. It outlines important things you need to know about as you age, like finances, long-term care, and illnesses, but delivers the information with humor and compassion. Not sure how to start the conversation with your doctor about your treatment plan? Want to know how to choose a senior care community? This book is for you.
Puzzles and Games
4. The Ultimate Brain Health Puzzle Book for Adults by Phil Fraas
This popular puzzle book includes a variety of different types of challenges: crossword puzzles, word searches, cryptograms, Sudoku, logic puzzles, and more. It’s divided into warmups, and then easy, medium and difficult puzzles. This allows the reader to progress through different levels of challenge, both improving their skills and strengthening their mind over time.
5. 399 Games, Puzzles, and Trivia Challenges Specifically Designed to Keep Your Brain Young by Nancy Linde
If your loved one wants more of a challenge, this puzzle and trivia book may be what you’re looking for. Its nearly 400 puzzles, trivia quizzes, brain teasers and word games are organized on an increasing scale of difficulty from “warm-up” to “merciless,” and are fun, engaging, and specifically designed to give the brain the kind of mental workout it needs to stimulate the production of new brain cells. The book also includes information on the brain and how puzzles help to maintain and improve cognitive function.
6. Funster 250+ Large Print Word Search Puzzles for Adults by Charles Timmerman
This book of large print word search puzzles has a 5-star rating on Amazon, and for good reason. Reviewers say that it’s perfect for older adults who may find smaller print challenging, and that the word searches are fun and interesting. Every purchase also comes with free bonus puzzles that you can download from the internet.
7. Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
This novel about a CIA agent-turned-retired-grandmother is funny and lighthearted – with a dash of mystery. Barbara Gold is a retired CIA agent who’s bored out of her mind, until a member of her senior book club is poisoned, and it’s up to her to find the culprit.
8. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
The Thursday Murder Club is a New York Times Bestseller and is being made into a movie by Stephen Spielberg – a book can’t come more highly recommended than that! This story about four retirement community residents who meet weekly to discuss unsolved crimes takes a turn when someone turns up dead, and the Thursday Murder Club finds themselves in the middle of their first live case.
9. The Best Joke Book (Period) by William Donohue
Does your loved one revel in a good joke? Give them this book of knock-knock jokes, puns, one-liners, and funny celebrity quotes. It includes hundreds of jokes, so there’s sure to be the perfect one for every occasion.
10. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir by Paul Newman
One of the most popular books of 2022, Paul Newman’s memoir is raw and candid, going over everything from his traumatic childhood to his drinking, his greatest roles, and his thoughts on Marlon Brando, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and more.
Reading and puzzles aren’t only fun – they challenge us, keep us engaged and inspire us to learn and do more. We hope that these suggestions inspire your loved one to read something new today!
Live Worry-Free at Eagle Flats Village
Our community has been intentionally designed to give our residents the opportunity to live a worry-free life, so they’re able to pursue their interests and hobbies, without having to keep track of bills, cook, clean or think about home maintenance. We encourage our residents to be as social and involved with the community as much or as little as they want. If a quiet evening at home with a book is more their style, our private apartments with bathrooms and kitchenettes make that possible.
Find out what it’s like to live worry-free. Schedule your visit to Eagle Flats Village today.