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You probably made a number of promises to yourself when you took your first steps into retirement living—experiences that you were finally going to enjoy now that you had time. You were going to eat better, go on the European tour you planned as an idealistic youth, finally join that book club. You may have even checked a few off your list.

But chances are there’s still a number of items that haven’t been crossed off yet.

A senior living community like Marjorie P. Lee gives you the resources and motivation to make good on your retirement resolutions. Like reading more.

And that’s one resolution you really should follow through on.

Scientific studies have shown that reading is good for more than just entertainment—it can also enhance your quality of life.

Whether you’re 8 or 88, reading has a multitude of benefits that you can’t afford to miss out on, but here are the top 4 reasons seniors should be reading more.

1. Worried about losing your brain fitness? Literary pursuits sharpen your vocabulary and exercise your mind through the power of words.

Scientists have proven what librarians have been saying for yearsreading really does make you smarter.

Anne E. Cunningham associate professor in cognition and development from the University of California, Berkeley and University of Toronto professor of applied psychology Keith E. Stanovich are well known for their literacy research.

In a study originally published in the Journal of Direct Instruction, Cunningham and Stanovich discovered that how much a person reads has a “reciprocal and exponential” relationship with brain fitness. According to their findings, individuals who read more— and more texts with “rare words,” in particular— greatly improve their vocabulary which results in a stronger, smarter mind.

2. Alzheimer’s run in the family? Pick up a book and take a step toward dementia prevention.

A study out of Rush University Medical Center and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center has found that reading and other activities that engage the mind can reduce cognitive decline in older adults—especially those with dementia.

The Rush researchers conducted post-mortem examinations on  the brains of more than 290 patients and found that older adults who had regularly participated in cognitively stimulating activities like reading, writing, or playing games, experienced an overall slower rate of mental decline than their peers who did not.

Those who had been lifelong readers fared even better.

A study from a unique interdisciplinary team of researchers at Standford University—the study included a cross-disciplinary team of neurobiological experts, radiologists and humanities scholars—may just have found why.

3. Want to work on your brain fitness? Pick up a copy of Jane Austen.

Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar who led the interdisciplinary Stanford project, has found that reading provides valuable exercise for the brain.

Phillips and her associates used MRIs to track blood flow in the brains of a group of readers as they made their way through passages of a Jane Austen novel.  And, according to the preliminary results, the act of reading brings a dramatic increase in blood flow to the brain which greatly improves cognitive function—whether you’re just reading for pleasure or focusing closely on the text, as you would for a reading group discussion

4. Overwhelmed? Reading can help with that too.

Avid readers are less likely to be stressed out, say English researchers.

“Reading novels and magazines can offer a brief respite from the stresses and strains of everyday life, says neurologist Baroness Susan Greenfield. “Traditionally reading was associated with learning, and in this way it is good for personal development, but reading a magazine or even cook book can be very comforting. Our brains are constantly bombarded with information, more so now than ever before, and reading is a good way to wind down.”

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Bryan Reynolds
By
October 18, 2013
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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