Reading offers a number of benefits for people of any age, and seniors who can still pick up a good book and get lost in its pages can experience them. From passing the time in a constructive way to helping to support ongoing cognitive function, reading in your assisted living apartment or throughout the Bethesda Gardens community in Arlington is certainly not a waste of time. Check out some of the benefits of reading below and then get some tips for finding fun reading materials.
Reading is something you can do without spending a lot (or any) money, and you can do it almost anywhere. You can slip a book or magazine into your bag for reading at a doctor's appointment, cozy up with a favorite story in your bed, or enjoy reading on your tablet while spending time in a common area or outdoors on the assisted living community grounds. And while you're devouring the words on the page, you're also experiencing some of the following benefits.
Reading exercises a lot of different elements of your brain. Since your mental acuity is often a use-it-or-lose-it function, this can help you stay sharp. Regularly working your brain out in this way also helps keep it able to take in new inputs and learn new things, which can help you retain the information that you read.
While reading doesn't cure dementia and may not help in all cases, it can delay the onset of symptoms for some people. That's because it helps your brain build neural connections that are required for memory and other functions.
When you read a real book or other non-digital media before bed, you create a barrier between your day and your sleep. Even more important, you create a barrier between technology and sleep. The blue light emitted by various types of screens causes your brain to react in a certain way that can make it hard to fall asleep right after playing on your phone or watching television. Reading doesn't cause that problem, and it also lets your mind start to wind down from the activities and stresses of the day. All of that can lead to better sleep.
When you read, your mind is given something to do. It begins to imagine the world you've entered with fiction or parses the information you're reading in nonfiction. A mind that's engaged in this way is less likely to wander and worry over things it can't control, and that can reduce stress and anxiety.
Books and other media introduce us to worlds that are different from our own and situations we might never experience in real life. They also often present problems that need to be solved, and we work through those problems alongside the characters. This expanded view of the world and constant exposure to creative problem solving can help seniors be more creative in their daily lives. It can also give perspective to those lives, which can help seniors deal more positively with whatever they're facing.
Some seniors might find reading so enjoyable that they're constantly on the hunt for new reading material. Luckily, modern technology and a variety of other resources make it easy to keep yourself in books and other media without great expense. Here are several ways to read for free or low cost.
Get a library card at the Arlington Public Library and gain access to books in seven library locations as well as digital collections. Seniors can search the library catalog online and put books on hold at their nearest branch for pick up.
Scribd is an ebook service that offers access to millions of digital books and magazines as well as audiobooks. You can read the materials on a computer or mobile device. After a free trial (which is sometimes offered), you pay $8.99 per month for access to an unlimited number of books, magazines, newspapers and audiobooks.
Another monthly subscription that offers unlimited access to a range of books is Kindle Unlimited. You pay $9.99 per month and can read any book that's available on Amazon through this program. A number of publishers and indie authors make their books available through this program. You can "check out" 10 books at a time via your Amazon account. Once you return one or more of those 10 books, you can take out others.
Amazon and various publishers often offer free ebooks to get people interested in certain authors, series or genres. You can keep an eye on Kindle book listings to score digital books for free almost daily.
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