The Benefits of Audiobooks for Seniors

There’s no getting around the fact that visual and physical limitations come with age. Health issues like arthritis can make holding a book an uncomfortable task, and limited vision makes reading into something other than a …

There’s no getting around the fact that visual and physical limitations come with age. Health issues like arthritis can make holding a book an uncomfortable task, and limited vision makes reading into something other than a pleasure. These restrictions can also make a senior’s world feel much smaller because it’s more difficult to relax with a book without discomfort or irritation. This is where the introduction of audiobooks can help a senior find enjoyment, connect with their world again, and explore mental landscapes with the least amount of effort.

Here’s a look at how audiobooks can help improve a senior’s outlook on life and find enjoyment once again.

Audiobooks Provide Mental Stimulation for Seniors With Physical Limitations

Seniors who are experiencing physical limitations in the form of limited mobility and/or poor vision can’t get much enjoyment out of their environment. TV can go a long way toward occupying their minds, but television shows don’t stimulate the mind like a book can. An audiobook is a lot like listening to an old-time radio show in that the story and acting by the narrator helps the mind form visuals to go along with what’s being heard. 

The audiobook helps a senior feel like they’re in a whole new world and enables them to mentally escape for a while. In fact, most audiobooks last for hours and it can take someone a couple of days to get through the audiobook if listened to continually. This helps a senior fill their days when other pursuits aren’t possible or interesting. 

After the listener has finished the book, the mental benefits continue on in the form of pondering the story and its characters, the plot, and anything else that caught their attention. Overall, an audiobook helps a senior keep their mind active and looking for different avenues of thought, something that can decline with a lack of activity.

Handling an Audiobook is Simple

One of the major issues with physical and visual limitations is the fact that it’s hard to comfortably hold a book, much less read it if the type is small. An audiobook usually comes in .mp3 format or a format that’s designed to work with audiobook software. In either case, the font in the software used for playing the files can be enlarged or already come in a large font for ease of reading. This enables the user to easily navigate the software and settle into listening to the audiobook. 

You can give a senior an MP3 player of any type, whether it be an old smartphone or a dedicated audiobook device, and a pair of headphones for listening. Modern devices with a touchscreen are easy to use, and there’s no need to hold them for long periods of time while listening to an audio book. A senior who has a physical condition that makes it painful to hold things for an extended period of time will find it a relief to handle a device. The addition of a pair of headphones is beneficial to someone with hearing loss. 

Sometimes a senior doesn’t adapt easily to the use of modern technology and would prefer a cassette or CD player. Audio books on tape and CDs are still available through non-profit organizations and commercial publishers. Another source for finding books on tape or CDs is eBay, thrift stores, and even garage sales. 

Books Help Alleviate Feelings of Depression and Anxiety

Seniors are at risk of experiencing depression and anxiety, especially when they have limited mobility. This causes them to spend more time alone than is good for their mental health. However, getting a senior out of the house on a regular basis can be difficult for family and caregivers alike. An audiobook helps a senior keep their mind out of unhealthy thought patterns that lead to negative feelings and affect their quality of life. 

The audiobook helps a senior pass time in a way that feels productive. Their mind is engaged in following the story and prevents them from feeling trapped in their head. It should be noted that taking a senior out for activities is also of benefit as they have something to talk about with you or a social group. 

Audiobooks can Improve Social Engagement

Think about the last time you read a good book. The chances are good that you talked about it with friends and family to share your feelings and impressions of various aspects in the story with them. The same desire is true at any age, and for seniors who want to bring something to talk about to their social circle, the audio books they listen to can help them engage with their friends. 

Social engagement is important for seniors who frequently live alone in their later years. They don’t necessarily lose their desire to socialize with others, no matter if they’re age mates or younger, but physical limitations can make it harder for them to find new material to talk about. Listening to an audio book gives them something new and fresh to share with others. In turn, a senior has a better experience with their friends and gets satisfaction from having a robust social experience. 

The Ability to Find Audiobooks Creates a Feeling of Independence

Seniors often turn to the library as a source of books to read, but someone with physical limitations may not be able to visit the library. Giving a senior an audiobook device that’s connected to a library service serves to bring the library to them. Just about every library is connected to OverDrive, a file lending service that works the same as checking out a book from the library. 

Once a senior is comfortable with an internet-connected audio player, they can browse OverDrive through a library card and find books they’d like to check out. They don’t have to rely on anyone to help them find a new book and load it onto their device, or wait for someone to bring them a new set of books on tape. It’s a small freedom that helps them find the best audiobooks for seniors. 

Free Audio Books for Seniors With Visual Impairment

Seniors tend to survive on a fixed income, which makes buying audio books a challenge. The library is one place to find free audiobooks for seniors, but there are other resources that offer free books. They include the Library of Congress Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) website and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Another source, Librivox, offers recordings of public domain titles. When looking at a free audio book website, make sure that the files are truly free and don’t require a subscription to get a free title.


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