Many people love a good book. A good story can grab your attention, letting the hours go by as you read. Whether reading with friends or for self-care, picking up a book can benefit your quality of life.
The benefits of reading are often understated, especially as you age. Reading can improve memory, among other mental abilities, making it worth grabbing a book every once and a while.
Does Reading Improve Memory?
Reading has many benefits for your mental and physical health, including strengthening your brain. Research has found that increased reading helps different areas of the brain connect. Frequent readers have another benefit for their health—reading helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Reading isn’t guaranteed to prevent diseases like dementia, but it can improve cognitive function. Your cognitive functioning includes the different mental abilities your brain completes, including:
- Solving problems
- Making decisions
Research into healthy aging has shown the benefits of reading and other brain-stimulating activities. A 2013 study discovered that frequent cognitive activities during life helped slow later-life mental decline. Recent 2018 research showed that regular readers outperformed non-readers when tested on their memory and knowledge of words.
A 14-year-long study released in 2021 discovered that older adults reading at least once a week were less likely to experience cognitive decline than those not reading. Researchers concluded that reading helps protect mental function as someone ages. Anyone frequently reading can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as they age.
When thinking about your health, picking up a book can do more than you think. Reading has several benefits, especially as you age.
The Benefits of Reading as You Age
Reading can have several benefits for your mind and body as you age—it can:
- Improve cognitive function: Reading can keep your brain active & stimulated, helping prevent mental decline as you age.
- Increase empathy: Empathy can be difficult when people focus on their lives. Reading about the stories of others can help improve your capacity for empathy & introduce different perspectives.
- Improve mental health: Reading can be a healthy way to take your mind off of the real world & enjoy a good story. Frequent readers may enjoy lower rates of anxiety & depression.
- Reduce stress: Stress can negatively affect anyone, especially seniors, leading to potential health issues. Frequent reading can help you manage & reduce stress by relaxing the body & slowing breathing when you become engaged in a good book.
How Else Can You Care for Your Memory?
Reading isn’t the only way to improve your memory. Healthy aging is more than staying mentally sharp. Taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs is crucial.
There are many ways to improve your memory and lower the risk of memory loss with age—make sure you:
- Stay active with regular physical activity.
- Keep your mind active with puzzles, hobbies, & other brain-stimulating activities.
- Get at least 7–9 hours of sleep every night.
- Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, & protein.
- Visit your doctor frequently to manage any health conditions.
- Socialize regularly—friendships have many physical & mental benefits for older adults.
How Can You Get Yourself Reading More?
Reading has many benefits, but you may find it’s a struggle to pick up a book. If keeping interested in a book is a challenge, there are many ways to motivate yourself.
Try staying consistent, reading multiple books, finding different types of books, or starting a book club to get yourself reading more.
Like any habit, consistency is critical. Daily reading can be difficult, but it gets easier with time. Try setting an ideal reading time when you feel most focused and energized.
Another way to build a consistent habit is reading a certain number of pages every day. Even 20–30 pages can make a difference.
Read Multiple Books
It can seem counterintuitive, but reading several books can keep you engaged. If one book isn’t grabbing your interest, switch to the other. You can try out books from different genres to meet your interests.
Don’t Settle for Novels
Long, imaginative stories aren’t the only thing you can read. There are plenty of short stories, autobiographies, textbooks, and other books you can try out. Each person is unique, and the right book is waiting for you.
Start a Book Club
Book clubs help people meet and enjoy a book together, discussing how it makes them feel, their opinions on the story, and other thoughts. They can help get you reading more because you have a page goal to hit before each meeting.
Besides reading more, book clubs are a great way to create a community of friends and enjoy a fun activity with others.
Keep More Than Your Mind Sharp
Reading can benefit your memory, but memory is only one aspect of your health. As you age, you may need more support to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Senior living can help, no matter your needs.
Group discussions, social hours, and libraries are some of the ways you can help your mind stay sharp with time. Senior living communities offer many services and amenities to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Contact Arcadia at Limerick Pointe if you’re interested in senior living. We can show you what life is like in our community.