Does Reading Reduce Senior Anxiety?

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Does Reading Relieve Anxiety?

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For as long as the written word has existed, reading has been thought of as a wonderful means of escape. In fact, libraries in ancient Greece were considered “healing places for the soul.” Many attest that they have encountered a certain book that was so good they could not put it down. Whether the story is an exciting adventure, a heart-wrenching romance or an intriguing mystery, scientific research verifies that biological and physiological changes occur when someone becomes immersed in a novel. Because of this, El Dorado County at-home care providers encourage seniors to read books to relieve stress.

Researchers from Emory University found through imaging studies that when someone actively reads a novel, specific areas of the brain become stimulated. Oddly enough, readers’ brain regions displayed the same areas of activity as the leading character might while acting out the story. Reading for pleasure gives us the ability to mentally transport ourselves into a story, which serves as a form of therapy. In fact, a Presbyterian minister by the name of Samuel M. Crothers coined the concept bibliotherapy in 1916. 

By allowing yourself to enter a literary world, individuals give themselves permission to escape from everyday stressors that cause anxiety and depression. Scientists from the University of Sussex learned during a 2009 study that reading has the ability to reduce stress by up to 68 percent. They also evaluated the physical changes that occur when people read. The group found that reading causes muscles to relax and both heart rate and blood pressure to decrease. They also determined that reading offered more effective and faster stress relief compared to listening to music or drinking a hot cup of herbal tea. 

The only stipulation to ensure that books will alleviate stress and anxiety is to choose novels with subject matter pertaining to topics of personal interest. Bibliotherapists, or professionals who write therapeutic books, recommend that anyone that lives with anxiety take the time to read a minimum of 30 minutes daily. If your senior loved one has visual problems that interfere with his or her ability to read, live-in and part-time El Dorado County caregivers recommend audiobooks.

When seniors are stressed, it can lead to anxiety and depression. These emotional problems can seriously impact your loved one’s quality of life. Turn to Home Care Assistance for help boosting both emotional and mental wellbeing. In addition to helping seniors around the house, we provide specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia and stroke care El Dorado County seniors need to lead active lives. Call (916) 358-3801 or (530) 409-4411 today to learn more about our home care from a trusted Care Manager.