There are many therapeutic benefits in reading aloud not only to children, but to the elderly as well.
New research suggests that reading books, writing and participating in brain-stimulating activities at any age may preserve memory. Reading exercises our working memory which requires us to use more mental energy than, for example, processing an image on a television screen.
As for the case with the elderly, reading aloud encourages them to “tap into” these already stored life-long memories. We shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.
To supplement this need and accommodate visual and attention deficits, we have been reading aloud to residents to provide memory stimulation and engage long-term memory.
Therefore, the emphasis placed on reading to children should also be directed to our elderly population, especially considering eye function declines as we become seniors, making it difficult to read to oneself.
Currently we are reading “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingles Wilder. This book has been met with great interest by both higher- and lower-functioning residents, keeping interest for up to an hour. Rhonda has been reading after supper in Garden Terrace several evenings each week and Katie has started a new ‘Reading Circle’ that meets most Monday mornings. We discuss various details of the book, adding personal spins on the content. This type of book taps into the tales they heard as children, perhaps even from the reminiscing of their elders. The book paints vivid mental pictures that they can visualize as we read, and allows a brief escape from our everyday lives.
-Katie and Rhonda