What to Know
Reading aids can come in many forms, from low-tech options to more advanced technologies. Low-tech options such as magnifying lenses and rulers are less expensive and easier to use, making them an excellent choice for seniors who want to continue reading without breaking the bank.
Electronic options such as ReaderPens and Kindle or Nook digital readers are great for seniors who want access to a wider variety of reading materials.
When choosing a reading aid, it is vital to consider the reading needs of the senior. Factors such as budget, physical limitations, and ease of use should all be considered. Additionally, it is essential that the senior is comfortable using the device.
Reading aids can help seniors stay connected to the world around them and remain engaged with the latest news and information.
Types of Reading Aid Products
Magnifiers are an excellent option for seniors with difficulty reading small print because they make the text larger and bolder. However, some magnifiers can be challenging or uncomfortable to hold for long periods.
Magnifiers come in various shapes and sizes, such as:
Hand-held magnifiers are small and easy to use. They are perfect for seniors who need to magnify small text or objects. They come in all configurations to meet different needs for printed and digital materials.
Stand magnifiers are large, serve as a full page magnifier, and include a stand so the reading matter can be propped up and used hands-free. They are perfect for those who need to read for an extended period.
Lighted magnifiers are ideal for seniors with impaired vision because they contain their own built-in light source to help improve visibility.
Digital magnifiers allow for easy text magnification on a screen and are best used with digital reading materials.
2. Reading Glasses
Reading glasses are an outstanding option for seniors with difficulty focusing on small print. These eyeglasses come in various strengths, are available with or without a prescription, and typically have larger lenses for better coverage.
Check our list of the best reading glasses for seniors in this guide.
Their main benefit is that they are lightweight, portable, and easy to obtain. However, some people find that reading glasses cause eyestrain and headaches if worn for too long, especially if they aren’t the correct power.
Get a routine eye exam or see an ophthalmologist to determine the best strength for your needs.
3. Electronic Reading Aids
Electronic reading aids help with small print through a combination of technology and special lenses to magnify text and make it easier to read.
The main benefit of using an electronic reading aid is that it can be used with various reading materials, including digital and print books. However, these aids can be expensive and require a certain level of technical knowledge to use correctly.
Some electronic reading aids include:
- Screen readers are electronic devices that read aloud text on a computer screen, phone display, or tablet. They come in all different formats and can be attached to computers or portable devices.
- Text-to-Speech (TTS) software converts text into an audible form that can be listened to on a computer, phone, or another device. TTS software is perfect for seniors who have difficulty reading because it eliminates the need to read aloud and helps keep their hands free.
4. Large Print Books
Large print books and magazines have larger fonts, making them easier to read. The main benefit of large print books is that they are widely available and are familiar to older adults who have yet to embrace technology.
However, large print books can be more expensive than regular books and may not be available in certain titles. Reader’s Digest Large Print Edition is a typical example.
5. Audio Books
Audiobooks are a practical option for seniors because they can hear their favorite books in solitude.
Audiobooks come in various formats, including newspapers and magazines, and can be downloaded to phones, mp3 players, or other devices.
However, audiobooks can be expensive and may require a subscription.
6. Adjustable Reading Stands
An adjustable reading stand is a helpful reading aid for seniors who have difficulty holding onto books or magazines.
This stand adjusts to the desired angle and height, making it easier to read without straining the neck or back. However, some people find reading stands bulky and difficult to transport.
7. Book Lights
Book lights are a simple modification for reading in low-light situations. Reading lights clip to books, are portable, and can be used in any lighting situation.
However, some people find that reading lights cause eyestrain and headaches if used for an extended time.
How to Choose the Right Reading Aid
1. Consider the Type of Reading Required
Seniors should determine the type of reading they need assistance with and choose the appropriate reading aid that helps with that specific task.
For example, a magnifying glass may be the best choice if they need to read the small print on medicine bottles. A handheld magnifier may be the best option for reading small text in books or newspapers.
2. Evaluate Comfort
When choosing a reading aid, seniors should consider how comfortable it is to use. If the reading aid is uncomfortable or hard to hold, it may not be helpful.
Ensure the reading aid fits comfortably in their hand and offers features that make it easy to use, such as adjustable focus or light for better illumination.
Some more comfortable reading aids for seniors are reading pillows, booklights, and headphones with built-in speakers.
3. Features of the Reading Aid
Some reading aids have features that make them easier to use, such as adjustable focus or built-in lights for better illumination.
Other features that may be helpful are a built-in speaker for listening to audiobooks while reading, a comfortable pillow or footrest, and a reading pillow or cushion for additional support when reading long passages.
4. Ease of Use
Seniors should look for an intuitive reading aid.
It may be challenging to use if a reading aid has too many buttons or difficult-to-navigate menus.
A handheld magnifier with a few simple controls is the easiest.
5. Battery Life
Ensure electronic reading aids have a good battery life to be used for long periods without recharging.
Some devices may also have replaceable batteries that you can swap out if the battery runs out of power.
Seniors should consider how portable the reading aid is.
A smaller cordless device or a pocket-sized magnifier may be the best option if it needs to be used in different locations.
Some devices even have built-in batteries, so they do not need to be plugged in.
When choosing a reading aid, seniors should consider how much the device costs and whether it is affordable.
Some devices are more expensive than others, but some may offer features worth the price.
Importance of Reading For Seniors
Reading difficulties have a significant impact on a senior’s daily activities.
Missing out on important information, like health and safety messages and instructions, is a serious concern.
So is being unable to keep up with current events and communicate with family and friends.
No longer participating in the everyday activities they enjoy, such as reading fiction or even seeing crossword puzzles, can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
Difficulty completing everyday tasks, like reading labels on medication bottles, instructions on using electronic devices, and directions on maps, could lead to an increased risk of accidents and health issues.
Benefits of Reading Aids – And How to Achieve Them
Are you having difficulty seeing the words on the page?
You’re not alone – many seniors experience vision problems that make reading difficult.
The main benefit of most reading aids is that they make the print easier to see. Magnifying glasses, handheld or desktop magnifiers, and lighted magnifiers help you see more clearly.
Digital reading aids and audiobooks help seniors focus on and comprehend the material better.
Plus, reading aids reduce eye strain through book holders, adjustable reading stands and reading glasses.
Reading aids help older adults read more quickly. With built-in speed-reading features in digital reading aids and audiobooks, they can read more quickly and efficiently.
Plus, bookmarks and flashcards can help you to keep track of what you have read and focus on the material.
Finally, you can find more comfortable reading positions with ergonomic reading chairs and headrests. This can help to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders while you read.
There are many great products to help you read more efficiently and accurately.
Maximizing the Benefits of Reading Aids
- Adjust the device to fit your personal needs. For example, use the adjustable font size on your e-reader to make the text larger so you can see it more easily.
- Take advantage of the features of your device. For instance, use text-to-speech features to have the book read aloud to you.
- Break the reading into smaller chunks. Set a timer for 15 minutes and then take a break when the time’s up to stay focused and enjoy the task more.
- Find a comfortable spot to read. Curl up in your most comfortable chair with a cup of tea while you read to relax and concentrate better. Use a reading pillow in bed.
- Read what you enjoy. For instance, if you experience vision problems, find books with large print or e-books with text-to-speech features.
- Ask your doctor about any reading aids that may be appropriate for you, such as electronic readers with hearing aids or Braille displays.
- Use online resources, such as online newspapers, magazines, or books, to increase the text size.
- Have your eyes checked regularly and have your current prescription routinely updated.
Keeping Your Reading Aids In Good Condition
- Keep your reading aid clean and dust-free by wiping it with a soft, dry cloth.
- Store your reading aid away from direct sunlight in a dry, cool, and dust-free place.
- Ensure the battery is installed and secured before using your reading aid.
- Turn off your reading aid when not in use to conserve battery life.
- Avoid dropping your reading aid and handle it with care.
- Keep your reading aid away from moisture, extreme temperatures, and corrosive materials.
- Regularly replace the battery to keep it in good working condition.
10 Hacks, Tech Tips, and Apps For Easier Reading
- Increase Text Size by using your device’s zoom feature to enlarge text and make it easier to read.
- Magnification Apps such as Magnifying Glass or Magnifying Glass Pro help seniors to enlarge text, making it easier to read.
- Reading apps such as Readability or Pocket allow seniors to access and read web content more easily.
- Adjust the color contrast between the text and background colors on your device.
- Text-to-Speech apps such as Voice Dream Reader can help seniors to listen to text instead of reading it.
- Audiobook apps such as Audible and Audiobooks.com allow seniors to listen to books and articles rather than having to read them.
- Change the font to one that is bolder and more comfortable to read, such as Verdana or Helvetica.
- Reading pens such as the ReaderPen or Sight Reader can help seniors to scan and read text aloud.
- Increase the brightness setting on your device to make the text easier to see.
- Digital readers such as the Kindle or Nook can help seniors to read e-books more easily.
10 Low-Tech Ways To Make Reading Easier
- Use a simple magnifying glass.
- Increase font size or use bold text.
- Use a reading ruler to help guide your eyes across the page.
- Utilize magnifying bookmarks, tabs, or post-it notes to find passages easily.
- Highlight or underline keywords and phrases.
- Print out materials in large font sizes.
- Use a larger font on electronic devices.
- Place a bright light near the reading material.
- Break reading into smaller chunks.
- Take breaks often to rest the eyes and mind.
12 Ways Seniors Can Focus Better While Reading
- Get plenty of rest and exercise to help you stay focused.
- Create a dedicated, quiet reading space free of distractions like television, phones, and other people.
- Use a timer to break reading material into more manageable chunks.
- Take note of key points in the margins and highlight or underline them.
- Utilize bookmarks, tabs, or post-it notes to find passages easily.
- Read aloud to increase focus and comprehension.
- Use a magnifying glass to focus on small text.
- Take breaks often to rest the eyes and mind.
- Make sure the reading material is in the correct font size.
- Place a bright light near the reading material.
- Utilize a reading ruler to help guide your eyes across the page.
- Ask questions about what you’ve read to help you understand and stay focused.
9 Ways To Make Seniors Comfortable When Reading
- Use a comfortable chair with lumbar support.
- Try an adjustable reading stand instead of holding onto books.
- Place a bright light or book light near the reading material.
- Wear prescription sunglasses to reduce eyestrain outdoors.
- Place a fan near the reading area to keep cool.
- Use a reading pillow or cushion.
- Prop your feet up on a footrest near the reading area.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- National Federation of the Blind: https://nfb.org/
- American Council of the Blind: https://www.acb.org/
- The Low Vision Resource Center: https://www.youreyes.org/low-vision-learning-center/
- American Foundation for the Blind: https://www.afb.org/
- VisionAware: https://www.visionaware.org/
- Visionlink: https://www.visionlink.org/
As people age, some experience a variety of visual and physical limitations that make it difficult to enjoy reading.
Central vision problems and eye disease, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, contribute to a person’s inability to read and may even lead to permanent vision loss.
Additionally, many seniors experience general aging problems such as arthritis, difficulty focusing, and even cognitive decline, making reading difficult.
Fortunately, there are now a variety of reading aids available that make life better for seniors and the elderly.
Infographic: Unlocking the Benefits of Reading Aids for Seniors
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Reading is a critical part of an older adult’s daily life. Access to reading and low-vision aids can help them retain their independence and maintain their quality of life.
Reading aids can offer a wide range of benefits, from improved cognitive functioning and engagement with media to improve visual acuity and access to a wider variety of reading materials.
Thankfully, many reading aids are affordable, simple to use, and available to seniors of all ages and abilities.
By investing in reading aids for seniors, we can help them remain engaged and connected to the world around them.