Reading is a great way for older adults to keep their brains active and prevent cognitive deficits. However, reading can be a problem for seniors with vision loss. Other seniors may have problems with their hands that make holding a book painful, such as arthritis. An alternative to reading books is to listen to audiobooks. Caregivers may wonder, though, if an audiobook has the same effect on brain health. Well, relax caregivers, a new study indicates that they do!
Audiobooks and the Brain
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley conducted a study using 3D semantic brain maps to see what happens in the brain when someone reads and what happens when they listen to an audiobook. The scans measured blood flow in the brain and let the researchers see which parts of the brain responded to each word.
The results of the study showed that the brain responded in almost exactly the same way when participants read a book and when they listened to one. They were surprised to see this as they expected the brain to react differently.
Audiobooks for Seniors to Enjoy
If your aging relative is interested in trying ebooks, they are in luck. Nearly every book on the market also comes in an audiobook version. Audiobooks are read by professionals to make them interesting and engaging. Some audiobooks are even read by famous actors. Others are read by their authors, which can add another level of meaning to the book as seniors will hear it the way the author meant it to be read. Another great thing about audiobooks is that they are available through the library, so they won’t cost the senior a dime to enjoy.
Not sure where your older family member should start in listening to audiobooks, below are some books seniors may enjoy—and caregivers might like, too!
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty: For older adults who like a drama with a little suspense and intrigue, this novel is the story of nine people who check into a health resort that uses mysterious and questionable practices to change the lives of their guests.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: This novel tells the story of a family who moves to Alaska in hopes of finding a better life after the husband returns from Vietnam gravely affected by the ravages of war. Though Alaska is a quiet and peaceful place, the solitude has a dangerous effect on his damaged psyche.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: Gruen tells the story of a young man who runs away to be part of the circus after losing everything. There, he falls in love with the animals he cares for and the circus owner’s wife.
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