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Does Reading Reduce Elderly Anxiety?

By Jennifer Thompson, 9:00 am on

Reading a good book is akin to taking a mini-mental vacation. While immersed in a good story with interesting characters and a compelling plotline, readers venture into another realm that allows them to forget the real world for a while. Various scientific studies also indicate that the positive changes that occur in the brain while reading also tend to last for one or more days. Because of this, caregivers in Franklin, TN, might find reading to be an effective means of helping senior loved ones manage anxiety. 

Researchers from Emory University were intrigued to learn the effects reading had on the brain. Scientists used an MRI to scan the brains of 21 students for 30 minutes each day over a period of 19 days to gather data. Scanning occurred five days before a reading assignment began and again five days after the students completed a novel. The volunteers were asked to read one chapter each night from the novel Pompeii. The researchers witnessed as the student’s brains came to life in the emotional and physical areas that closely mimicked the actions of the characters in the stories. Blood flow also increased in these regions. 

The act of reading helps promote positive emotions and improves problem-solving skills while encouraging personal growth. The University of Sussex performed a study that indicated when individuals read for at least 30 minutes per day, their stress levels were reduced by up to 68 percent. While reading, subjects experiencing stress or anxiety reported muscle relaxation and a reduction of vital signs, which indicated a calmer demeanor. The scientists also learned that the body’s relaxation response to reading happened more quickly than listening to soothing music or enjoying a cup of tea. 

While immersed in a captivating book, the mind becomes distracted from the situations that cause emotional angst and refocuses on the more interesting activity of keeping up with the action in the novel. This is a reliable tool not only for seniors who live with anxiety, but also their Franklin live-in care providers that handle very stressful situations.

Learn more about ways to reduce your loved one’s stress by calling Home Care Assistance at (615) 656-4999 today. We are the leading provider of senior care Franklin seniors rely on to maintain independence while managing injury, illness or age in the comfort of home. Let us customize an individualized care plan for your loved one when you call.