Finding comfort in books

Education

As we get older, many of the activities that we once enjoyed become inaccessible to us, forcing us to find new ways to entertain ourselves and find an escape from our day to day lives. However, for book lovers, reading can always be a comforting escape, regardless of age or ability. If you or someone you know is having trouble engaging in their favourite pastime, here are some solutions to ensure books can always be a part of their lives.

Large print

Weakening eyesight is an inevitable part of ageing and for many people it can make reading very difficult and even painful. Finding the right glasses is helpful, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. Large print books are designed specifically for this problem, to take away some of the strain on the eyes and make reading enjoyable again. Your local library will have a selection of large print books, and you can request any book in large print for a small fee. Your local bookshop will also have a selection or you can order them online. For those readers who enjoy eBooks, you have the easy option of simply increasing the font size to suit your needs.

Audiobooks

If reading is no longer possible or enjoyable, audiobooks might be the perfect solution. There are many options in cassette or CD format, but for the widest selection using an app, such as Audible, is the simplest method. You can then listen to any book of your choice, new or old, being read aloud on your smartphone, tablet or computer. If you think someone you know could benefit from this, teaching them how to set it up and download audiobooks will give them a sense of independence. A subscription to one of these services is an excellent and reasonably priced gift that will give hundreds of hours of entertainment.

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eReaders

eBooks and eReaders are very much like marmite and not everyone is going to enjoy them, but for some people they can make reading possible. When they first came out it was thought that they would swiftly make traditional books obsolete, but for many people out there nothing will beat the feel of turning the page and holding a book in their hands. However, it is undeniable that eReaders do have many advantages. The vast quantity of books that can be stored and accessed is particularly beneficial for those who do not have much space or cannot get out to visit their local library or bookshop. There are always free ebooks available, due to various special offers, but books that are no longer under copyright and are in the public domain are free on Kindle, which includes many popular classics. The range of settings, offering large print and different levels of brightness are particularly useful for those with visual impairment. They also make the physical act of holding the book and turning the page much simpler. If you think someone might benefit from using an eReader, downloading the Kindle app on your tablet or smartphone will allow them to test it out before committing to buying one for themselves.

Braille

The RNIB Library is free to join and offers the largest selection of braille books in the UK. They also offer audiobooks, giant print and music, making it an excellent resource for the blind and partially sighted. Your local library will also have a selection of braille books, with more available on request.

Home Library Service

For those who once loved perusing the shelves of their local library but now find it difficult to leave the house, the Home Library Service run by the Royal Voluntary Service can bring the library to them. They will send a volunteer to their house who will not only bring them books that they might like, but also stay for a cup of tea and a chat, ensuring they are healthy and safe and providing a much needed point of contact. If you are worried about an elderly relative or friend, finding a service like this that will provide regular visits, and providing them with a personal alarm button, such as Helpline’s personal alarms can be enough to ensure that they can get the help and care they need.

Read aloud

Sometimes the old ways are the simplest, and for those who love reading but can no longer do it themselves, having a loved one read aloud to them is a huge comfort. It is a great social activity that anyone can do. It puts the control in the hands of the individual, without the need for technology and is completely free. If you are reading to an elderly relative or friend, make sure you are speaking at the right volume and speed for them and always allow them to choose the book.

Book clubs

Book clubs can provide an excellent way to meet other people with similar interests and quickly form new friendships. People of all ages and backgrounds join book clubs and they can be found in many locations. Bookshops and libraries are a good place to start, but a quick search online will show you the options available in your local area. Typically they meet once a month, giving members enough time to read the book chosen for the next meeting, without making it an unrealistic commitment for everyone. If you are looking for an activity to do with an elderly relative, joining a book club can be an excellent way to get out together, making new friends and find new topics of discussion along the way.

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