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Reading To The Elderly

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison  ~

When people grow old, they sometimes get to the point that they cannot continue to enjoy basic human functions, like reading and writing. reading for themselves because of age related ailments such as poor eyesight, strokes, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, Parkinson's disease, dyslexia, and other medical conditions. But that doesn't mean that they lose interest in things that are written, like books, magazines, newpapers, and other publications.

When some people get to the point that they can't do certain activites like they did when they were younger or in better health, they withdraw, feel unwanted, and may not want to be a burden on others.

Asking someone to read to them may cause anxiety or they may not be able to ask you to read to them. They may not be able to speak or communicate but studies suggest that many of the can hear very well and understand what is being said to them. They just may not be able to react in a way that is understood. They may have a better understanding than the person doing the reading.

They may want someone to read to them. Many elderly people love to listen to bible stories and the written words of other religions. It makes great company to have someone sit down and read to them and it means a lot to their health and long term mental wellbeing.

Below is an excerpt from Reading Aloud To The Elderly by Carolyn Banks.

"Reading aloud might not be an exciting activity for someone who does not ordinarily read. Having someone read to you, on the other hand, can be as welcoming as a touch, whether or not the listeners had been readers or the words have literal meaning any longer. At an advanced age, to be touched, in any way, is often the high point of a day."

Ms. Banks is a successful author who almost 20 years ago took a job at an adult day-care center in Texas. She was supposed to plan and direct activities for the elderly clients. These were people who couldn't be left by themselves during the day when their children or other caregivers were at work. There were a variety of disabilities - some had Alzheimer's disease, others were silent and morose, others just sat vacantly staring.

Those elders with normally vacant expressions sometimes showed a flicker of response. One man who had been silent for months began to talk disconnectedly about his distant past.

There was no way to predict whether a story would be a hit or a miss - and a miss with one audience could be a hit with another. Enthusiasm in the reader appeared to play a role, in so far that anticipation of a pleasing outcome might stimulate an exciting voice, which often proved quite successful. (It would be interesting to know whether older men and women have different reactions to certain stories, in the same way that young men and boys prefer action and adventure, while young women and girls opt more for romance and history.)

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