There are a number of different things we can do to care for our brains, to nurture the most valuable organ in our bodies, to show it love and attention; everything from our daily vitamin regimens and prescriptions to a good old-fashioned trip to the gym. However, one of the easiest ways we can help maintain the health of our brains and memory is through reading.

The benefits of reading go well beyond simply enjoying a good story. For decades, we’ve known reading to be a good way to relieve stress, to unwind after a long day; but, did you know that reading can also improve brain function? Books are capable of doing a lot more than just entertaining the people who enjoy them. Studies have shown that reading improves your empathy towards the world around you, it helps promote healthy mental stimulation, increases your knowledge, expands your vocabulary, and most importantly to us here at Heartwood Homes Senior Living, it helps maintain and boost memory!

According to a study at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, participating in mental stimulation through reading can help protect our memory and cognitive skills, especially as we age. The authors of this study have suggested that the act of daily reading can slow down the effects of cognitive decline late in life. Furthermore, scientists at the University of California – Berkeley have also found that reading may actually have a physical impact on the chemicals in our brains. A protein in our brains associated with Alzheimer’s called beta-amyloid (or b-amyloid) can be reduced simply by the act of reading!

Not only is participating in reading a book ourselves of benefit, but also the act of being read to. Many people living with memory care needs find comfort in books. The studies mentioned above, and others, have found that reading and being read to can improve a resident’s quality of life. When you read to someone, you slow down, you speak in a calm, collected manner, attempting to relay meaning and message. It allows the listener time to process. Every line is full of meaning. Reading and being read to help to keep the important pathways in our brain working and improve our overall fluidity of thought.

So, while sudokus in the Sunday paper and jigsaw puzzles are a great way to keep our minds sharp, we really shouldn’t neglect to feed our minds the written word either! We encourage you to pick up a good book and would like to wish you, “Happy reading!”