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Perfect Books for Seniors and Older Adults

Oct 25, 2022
There are countless good reasons to read. It's relaxing; it's portable. Reading is an excellent form of mental stimulation, and you can be transported to new worlds or back to yesteryear. Reading informs, educates, and delights. It's never too late to get back into reading. We'll look at books on aging and dementia, suggest a few great fiction reads, and offer tips for reading aloud to seniors.
Senior Reading

There are countless good reasons to read. It's relaxing; it's portable. Reading is an excellent form of mental stimulation, and you can be transported to new worlds or back to yesteryear. Reading informs, educates, and delights. It's never too late to get back into reading. We'll look at books on aging and dementia, suggest a few great fiction reads, and offer tips for reading aloud to seniors.

Books for Seniors with Dementia

Depending on the state of dementia, older people may still be able to enjoy reading books. Look for books with large print to relieve eye strain. In the case of more advanced memory issues, short stories, letters from family, news articles, or magazine articles are great alternatives to longer forms of reading.

Picture books are another excellent reading option for those with dementia. Choose subjects the senior is familiar with and has a passion for. Board-style books are a perfect choice for seniors with dexterity or grip issues.

A Bevy of Blue: Picture Book for Dementia Patients by Emma Rose Sparrow has beautiful photos featuring the color blue. Part of a series that includes different levels for those at varying stages of memory loss. A Bevy of Blue is level 2 good which focuses on photos but with sparse text. 

Considerations for Reading to Older People

There are a few considerations to think about when reading books to older adults.

  1. Be sure to ask what the person enjoys reading! When reading aloud, it's important to pick books that they like.
  2. Don't limit to current books. Ask if they would like to read books from "back in the day." Books from their past can be great conversation starters.
  3. For those that love poetry, poems and haikus can be perfect for those with shorter attention spans.   
  4. Those with dementia or other memory loss may not be able to follow along or comprehend all the details. Be prepared to stop and start.
  5. Some older adults could be hard of hearing. Be sure to speak clearly and at an appropriate level.

Below are suggestions for reading aloud to seniors.  

Loving Voice: A Caregiver's Book of Read-Aloud Stories for the Elderly by C. Banks. This collection of short stories was expressly written to be read aloud to older people who are bed or home-bound. This collection is highly regarded by professional caregivers and contains stories from established writers and lesser-known contributors.

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop. Hilariously told in theatrical style, this murder mystery is fun and a real page-turner. Great to be read aloud in a group setting.

Books About Aging

When looking for books on aging, search for topics on what happens as people age, the positive aspects of aging, and overall pro-aging stories. A few suggestions include:

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction, Aronson's book shows a vision of old age filled with wonder, joy, and hope.

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite. Applewhite's book is an uplifting rallying cry for older generations. The author tracks her journey from boomer to pro-aging advocate and debunks plenty of myths we've all grown to believe are true.

Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, by Jo Ann Jenkins. Jenkins, the CEO of AARP, focuses on health, wealth, and the self for those 50+. Topics include mindful aging, caregiving, and finance topics.

Age Ain't Nothing But a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife Edited by Carleen Brice. A collection of essays from Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Susan L. Taylor, Nikki Giovanni, and more examine aging from a Black woman's perspective. Deeply moving and uplifting.

Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives by Daniel J. Levitin. Levitin is a neuroscientist and has written extensively on neuroscience. In Successful Aging, he shows how aging is a stage of life that has extraordinary benefits creatively, physically, and cognitively.

I'm Too Young to Be Seventy by Judy Viorst. Viorst has written about what it means to be 50 and 60. Here she talks about the joys and sorrows of being a septuagenarian with a healthy dose of humor. Readers will love her helpful tips on being married to someone who is "thermostatically incompatible" and dealing with middle age children. 

Work your Brain Books

Promising research into brain health offers hope for those affected by Alzheimer's disease and other memory loss conditions. Research into brain exercise to boost cognition is ongoing but shows promise. For those wanting to flex their brain, a wide variety of puzzle books may help keep your brain fit. Take your pick from:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Cryptograms
  • Word searches
  • Logic grids
  • Mazes and more

Look for puzzle books with instructions and different difficulty levels so you can see your progress.  

Fiction for Seniors and Older Adults

It may surprise some, but Agatha Christie remains the bestselling fiction writer of all time. Her mystery novels are beloved by multiple generations making her collection a great way to start an intergenerational book club. Additional authors seniors might enjoy include:

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Major Pettigrew is a worldwide favorite and tells a charming story of finding love and hope.

The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. A funny, larger-than-life character you won't soon forget. 

Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman. Kaufmann created the Mr. Magoo character and was an award-winning screenwriter; he wrote Bowl of Cherries at age 90.

Build Up Your Personal Library

For additional book recommendations for seniors, ask around at social gatherings or the local library. Commit to reading more by attending a book group. If you don't have a book group near you, start one!

Reading can be a part of a supportive wellness program for all seniors. Many Life Care Service communities have active reading clubs and groups. Explore senior living options, and find the perfect high-quality community in your area.

 

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