The way we see words changes as we age, researchers from the University of Leicester discovered through a study they conducted in 2012. In the study, these psychologists measured eye movements in young adults (aged 18 to 30) and seniors (65 and older) as they read lines of text that were digitally manipulated in various ways. Their results indicated that young adults were able to read lines of text most easily when the fine visual detail was present, which was more challenging for the older age group. Seniors, on the other hand, found it easier to read blurred text.
Kevin Paterson, the study's author, wrote that despite progressive decline in visual sensitivity, "the findings also showed that older readers comprehended text just as accurately as younger readers … Consequently, although normal aging clearly leads to important changes in reading behavior, it seems that adaptive responses to the changing nature of the visual input may help older adults to read and understand text efficiently well into later life."
"Older adults use different reading strategies than young adults."
As this study found that older adults use different reading strategies than young adults, the results may lead to new approaches for how care providers can support their residents to continue to love the world of reading.
Why is reading beneficial for seniors?
When we age, our passions and hobbies don't necessarily go away, though they may grow dormant based on our lifestyle, living situation and ability. For those residents with a love of reading, this desire may not have dimmed completely, though they may be hesitant to continue reading due to their eyesight, lack of access, age and other factors. As a care provider, you should be aware of the many benefits reading presents for your residents.
Reading is an ideal way to reduce stress, provide mental stimulation, increase awareness, foster analytical thinking skills and improve memory retention. Other studies have shown that reading also improves mental alertness. While there are many other medical and psychological strategies to promote all these factors, reading is a fun, meaningful pastime your residents may thoroughly enjoy.
"Reading is an ideal way to reduce stress."
What are ways you can support seniors and their love of reading?
A 2012 Pew Research Center study discovered that 25 percent of Americans over 50 said that their health or physical conditions made reading difficult for them. The study also revealed that the rise in e-readers and audio books are making it easier than ever for seniors to still be able to enjoy reading. Some of these electronics, such as tablets and e-reading devices, offer adjustable font sizes and illuminated screens that make it easier for those with vision problems to still see the page. They also are usually lightweight, making it easier for seniors to hold, even if they are struggling with arthritis in their hands.
For residents who still enjoy the feeling of having a book in hand and the smell that accompanies physical copies, there are various reading lights and magnifying lens that make it easier for them to see the page, according to the American Optometric Association. Furthermore, certain publications even offer large print additions that are specifically geared toward those with vision impairments.
As stated in the University of Leicester study and in numerous other publications regarding senior care, age and vision should not be hindering factors to keep your residents from reading. With this knowledge and helpful advice, you may be able to revolutionize your care facility to keep your residents reading easier, for longer. For more information, contact Mariposa Training to learn more about our extensive range of courses that will help you to enhance both your quality of care and the quality of life of your residents.