Sitting in a cosy armchair with a warm drink on a nearby table and a good book in your hand; there’s something very soothing about the image. It’s not just about reading, as a good book can sweep you away from your life into a new world where compelling characters, twists and turns, and exciting surprises wait around every corner. But this small escape is not all on offer, as reading is one of those old age activities that come with a side of benefits. Some of the benefits include better memory retention, stress reduction, better sleep routines, and sharper decision-making skills. Reading can even help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reading is one of the best engagement activities for a senior, regardless of whether it’s an elderly man or elderly woman. Books, for the longest time, have been a refuge, companions, lifesavers, and much more for many people, and they can still be, even as one ages.
For a place to start a beautiful love affair with the written narrative, here is a list of the top 10 books to read for the elderly, in no particular order:
1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The first of the top 10 books to read, The Nightingale is a historical fiction based on World War II. A panorama of the war, as experienced by two sisters in a war-torn France after the Nazi invasion, the heartbreakingly beautiful story illuminates a part of the war that is seldom considered: the everyday battles fought by the women. Often counted as one of the 10 best books of all time, the story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, as it follows the two sisters, who are as different from each other as can be, as they both embark on different paths, both with their own dangers, in search of freedom, survival, and love.
2. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The skill and humour the author used to create an endearing love story surrounded by characters who at once seem completely unique yet vaguely familiar, is why Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is one of the top ten books to read for the elderly. Travel to the rolling hills and thatched cottages of Edgecombe St. Mary, a small English village, where Major Ernest Pettigrew, an embodiment of what a proper English man should be like, becomes the unlikely hero of our tale. The story revolves around the gentle, reticent affection between Major Pettigrew and Mrs Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper. One of the top ten books to read, the narrative is an enchanting read where the stiff-upper-lip hero transcends his stereotype!
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
A light read for the elderly and one of the 10 best books to read; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of the most controversial mysteries written by the author. The death of an attractive widow, followed by the murder of her fiancé, Roger Ackroyd, is the basis of this Hercules Poirot classic. One of the top 10 mystery books you’d want to read, this is the story that defines “unreliable narrator”, with a case that has violent death, blackmail, and suicide, and what is perhaps the most startling conclusion in the fabled career of Hercules Poirot.
4. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murukami
A featured author in many lists of top 10 books to read, Haruki Murukami’s surrealistic stylings have made him one of the most loved Japanese authors in the world today. The same dreamlike surrealism fills the mystery that is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This novel is not only one of the 10 best books to read for the elderly but is also considered to be one of the best works by the author. From looking for his wife’s cat in Tokyo to looking for his wife in the netherworld, this is a gripping and prophetic story with humour as well as menace; definitely worth a read.
5. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
One of the 10 best books of all time, with a 79-year-old protagonist, this book is a light-hearted, warm, and fuzzy story that can be enjoyed by all. The plot revolves around “The League of Pensioners”, a group of seniors in a retirement home. Tired of soft foods and scheduled bedtimes, they plan to reclaim their freedom. How? By robbing a bank of course! Considered to be one of the top 10 must read books all over the world, this comedy of errors will keep you hooked throughout.
6. Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
Quirky and a little different, Lost and Found has made it to the list of top 10 must read books with its endearing and poignant story that is hard to forget. Bringing together an unlikely trio of 7-year-old Millie whose mum suddenly leaves her in a store, an 82-year-old woman who hasn’t left her home for years, and an 87-year-old man in a nursing home, in a quest to look for Millie’s mum. One of the top ten books to read for a feel-good experience, you learn how even the young can be wise, how old age doesn’t have to be all about death, and how sometimes, breaking rules may be just what you need; Lost and Found is a great option for elders.
7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A timeless tale and one of the best books for older people, The Help highlights the socioeconomic and cultural differences of America in 1962. Based around three women from vastly different backgrounds, the novel makes for a moving read that is heart-breaking, yet humorous, yet filled with hope. Counted among the top 10 books to read for good reason, The Helps is all about the lines that defined those times, the lines to abide by, and the lines that need to be crossed.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One of the best books for the elderly, To Kill a Mockingbird needs no introduction; the dramatic and deeply moving story has been topping the charts in the top 10 books to read for years now. A sleepy Southern town, the crisis of conscience, the inherent racism that runs deep in an idyllic town, the beauty as well as the ugliness of humanity, all seen from the eyes of a 6-year-old with innocent wonderment; the story claims universal appeal.
9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A cutting satire about religion and philosophy, the author has written a brilliant masterpiece that brings together fantastical settings and impossible situations in a story that makes hilarious sense, even though the meaning may escape you. This is one of the best books for senior citizens as it can make them think or laugh out loud as they delve into the witty dry humour and dark comedy of Douglas Adams.
10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Another great book for older people, The Handmaid’s Tale takes you to a futuristic dystopia to explore women’s rights, their role in society, the role of childbearing, and much more. The age described in the story is witnessing declining births and women are no longer allowed to have names or to read. The book is a dire warning and a scathing satire that is funny and horrifying, yet quite convincing.
These are some of the books for senior citizens to help them develop a reading habit, which can play a major role in ensuring their mental well-being.
Whether they are living with their children or in their own homes, senior citizen care involves a lot of aspects, like healthcare, engagement, and much more. Ensure a healthy, safe, and secure life for your elderly loved ones with Emoha. Offering a range of support services for senior citizen care, at Emoha, we always put our #EldersFirst.