Is it less work for the brain to listen, than to read?
If you are a child learning to read, it is definitely more work for you to read a book, than to listen to an audiobook. But for adults who read without having to put any effort into it, it is just as beneficial for the brain to listen to a book, than it is to read it.
“Your brain uses mostly the same functions when you listen to a book, as it does when you are reading (1)”
When you hear an audiobook your brain uses the same functions to process language and make sense of the words, as you would if you were reading the words. If you are reading a book you are also decoding the text and transforming it into meaning, but this happens intuitively in people after the learning years, and the brain does not have to do any extra work, as it happens automatically. There are other and more complex brain functions in use, but for this, we are using the simplistic view of reading.
Several studies have examined the correlation between what comprehension you obtain from reading vs. the comprehension you obtain from listening (2) The results are that the understanding we have of the texts are quite equal regardless of how the information was presented to us.
When is an audiobook the better choice?
Audiobooks for seniors with physical limitations
In many instances, it can be an advantage to choose an audiobook instead of a regular book. Old age can come with new limitations and we have to rethink how we are doing things. Reading can be one of these things, but luckily you won’t have to stop experiencing books, even if your health fails you.
Sometimes when we get older, our concentration isn’t as good as when we were younger and it can become difficult to concentrate on reading a whole book.
Maybe your eyes are not quite as good as they once where, and reading can definitely put a strain on the eyes. People with poor eyesight and people who are losing their sight can continue experiencing their favorite stories, and finding new ones, even though their eyes are failing them.
People with severe arthritis can also experience difficulties in holding the book comfortably for longer periods of time. Here audiobooks can really help you retain the ability to enjoy books for as long as you would like.
Dementia or Alzheimer´s patients can have great pleasure in reading or hearing the stories from their childhood. Experiencing something they remember can make a huge difference.
Audiobooks for exercise
Audiobooks are also great for when you are taking a walk, commuting to- and from work, doing chores around the house, or just have time to spend. It can be very motivating to get out and get moving if it means that you can continue that exciting story you were listening to.
Another instance where an audiobook can be better than a regular book is if the author has recorded the book themselves. You will then hear the story or biography just the way the author intended them and you will gain a more full experience of the book.
But is there any reason to read a book then?
Even though your brain gets the same workout when listening to an audiobook, as when you are reading a normal book, there are still benefits to picking up a book.
When you are listening to an audiobook, you can sometimes lose focus and your mind might start to wander. This also happens when reading ordinary books, but the difference is that it is much easier to go back and find where you were in a book. In an audiobook, you have to rewind and it can be difficult to find the right place again. The selection of audiobooks is also much smaller, especially if you enjoy a book that is not in the most popular genres. Non-fiction books can be nearly impossible to find in audiobook form.
Can you exercise your brain by listening to Audiobooks?
There are many advantages to using audiobook instead of, or as a supplement, to regular books. Many seniors can enjoy the benefits of audiobooks to exercise their brains in new and entertaining ways.
Audiobooks for seniors - A great way to learn new things
Audiobooks are great if you like to dive into a new subject and learn as much about it as possible. As you can use the audiobook when you are doing other things, it takes up less time, than reading a regular book would.
There are many books available for personal development, so if that is your thing, then the possibilities are endless.
Audiobooks - The cheaper, and environmentally friendly, option
Most audiobooks are available on subscription and they are usually a bit cheaper than buying hard copies of the book, even the kindles are often a bit more expensive. Most services offer the option of buying more than one book per month and the price for the second (and third) book is significantly cheaper than the first book.
Other services charge a monthly fee and after that, you can rent as many books as you want. You don’t get to keep the books afterward, but you can just borrow them again if you wish to listen to it again.
Many libraries also provide audiobooks, the selection may be a bit narrow and you can only keep your book for one week, which isn’t much if you have a 30-hour long book. However it can be a great way to try it out, and you can ask your librarian to help you with the technical aspects of borrowing the book on your device.
"Audiobooks are better for the environment, as there is no printing involved"
When you are done with the book you don’t have to worry about what to do with it, it doesn’t have to be recycled or in other ways disposed of.
Fight the feeling of loneliness with audiobooks
Sadly loneliness is a huge problem among elderly adults, but audiobooks for seniors can divert the attention onto something else and this can be a help in improving quality of life, and raise your mood.
A word of advice
"If you are wearing a hearing aid, you should consider over-ear headphones or special ear-buds."
If you are wearing a hearing aid, you should consider buying special earbuds that can be worn with a hearing aid, or over-ear headphones that cover the hearing aid. This way you can comfortably listen to your book of choice, even when you are out and about.
If you are researching audiobooks for your disabled parent it can be a good idea to install the app and download the books before introducing it to them. It can for some people seem an impossible task to figure this out, and just having to learn how to stop and start the book, can help make it a success.
If you are researching audiobooks for your self, don’t worry! The process of downloading the app and finding an audiobook is not too complicated and we will soon be providing you with a detailed guide that will show you how to use some of the most popular audiobook services.