As you get older, memory is likely on your mind. Cognitive decline is typical during aging, and it can often affect your ability to retain information. Luckily, there’s a simple way to keep your memory going strong as you age, and it could be something you already do each day: reading.
Whether reading is a hobby or just something you do in passing, this activity could hold the secret to reversing the effects of aging on the brain. But how does reading improve your memory exactly? Keep reading to find out.
Improves Brain Function
Like the rest of your body, the brain gets stronger through exercise. So, one of the best ways to keep your brain functions fit as you age is to use them as much as possible. As it turns out, reading is a great source for your daily neural workout. Reading is also one of the best memory care activities for people with Alzheimer’s.
When your brain is stimulated, it shifts into a state where new neurons can be formed. These neurons combine to form a sort of cognitive map where information can be stored and later accessed. Because reading is more involved than processing images or spoken words, it’s one of the most stimulating activities your brain can do. So, the more you read, the more neurons you form and the greater ability your brain has to carry out functions like storing and recalling memories.
Builds Brain Connections
Reading broadens your mental superhighways and helps your brain make connections between the information it already holds.
Your brain contains a piece called the bilateral somatosensory cortex, which is responsible for processing information collected by the senses. This region contributes to healthy cognitive functioning, including the memory skills necessary to process information and images at will.
Research suggests that reading can improve the brain’s language processing capabilities — including the bilateral somatosensory cortex. By strengthening this section of the brain, reading can effectively improve brain connections and memory overall.
Staves Off Mental Decline
Memory is just one aspect of cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, the number of neurons produced in the brain decreases with age, making it more difficult to maintain proper brain function as time goes by.
Studies have suggested that regular reading may slow down the natural process of cognitive decline. By exercising the brain, reading can both lessen the decay of neurons and encourage the growth of new ones. Because it’s such a stimulating activity, consistently spending time reading can lead to a marked improvement in memory.
Lowers Stress Levels
Stress is one thing that doesn’t fade away as you age. Unfortunately, too much stress can have a negative effect on memory function, making it difficult for information to transition from short- to long-term memory.
However, eliminating stress can reduce its effects on the brain, and some research shows that reading may do just that. One 2009 study found that just 30 minutes of reading was enough to decrease both physical and mental signs of stress. According to the study, the stress-relieving quality of reading is likely due to the concentration required to complete the activity. Excessive focus reduces stress, which then prevents it from damaging your memory.
How to Improve Memory Through Reading
It’s one thing to know that reading can improve memory. It’s another to incorporate reading into your life in a way that helps you reap the benefits. Luckily, there are a few tips that will ensure your reading habit actually strengthens your memory. Here are some things to keep in mind as you read.
Put Down the Phone
“Reading” is a broad term, but not all forms of reading will give your brain a good workout. For example, reading a few more news articles on your phone every day probably won’t give you the results you’re looking for.
Because phones and computers are filled with distractions, they aren’t great for deep reading. Plus, many online articles are designed to be skimmed, meaning you aren’t so much reading but searching the page for the most important information. To get the most out of your reading habit, real books with paper pages are your best bet. That way, you’ll get the deep focus you need to reduce stress and build memory-improving neurons.
Keep Your Book With You
Even if you enjoy reading, finding time for it in your busy schedule could be a challenge. To make sure you’re meeting your reading goal each day, make sure you bring your book along wherever you go. Whether it’s in a waiting room or in line at the grocery store, you never know when an opportunity to read will present itself. The more accessible your book is, the more reading you’re likely to do.
Find Your Favorite Genre
Reading is most enjoyable when you have a thoroughly engrossing book in your hands. To make sure your new reading habit is one you can have fun with, find a genre that keeps the pages turning and your mind working.
Experiment with different genres to find the reading material that’s right for you. Whether you choose to read nonfiction, thrillers or romance, there’s bound to be a genre that will give you the mental stimulation your mind craves.
Find More Memory Care Help at Cedar Creek
Reading for memory improvement is a great way to mitigate the cognitive effects of aging, but it may not be enough to reverse them completely. Luckily, you can find all the memory care help you need at Cedar Creek Memory Care Homes in Maryland, including dementia care services.
Learning to improve your memory is just the first step. For a deeper understanding of your memory care needs, the Cedar Creek team is ready to help. Request a brochure today to take the first step toward improving your memory and having the quality of life you deserve. You can also contact us to learn more about our memory care facilities in Maryland.