For many of us, books serve as a reprieve from the “real world.” Whether we enjoy reading about a fantastical planet in a science fiction novel; following another’s life story in a memoir; or learning about an unfamiliar subject in a non-fiction book, reading help us expand our minds, use our imagination and enter other worlds — if only for a little while.
Reading also improves our memories and decision-making skills. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that older adults who read for three or more hours a week had higher cognitive abilities and a longer life expectancy than those who didn’t.
It’s no wonder why reading clubs have become a popular staple at senior centers and retirement communities across the country. These clubs help older adults reap the cognitive benefits of reading and allow them to stay engaged with their communities. They also encourage regular social interaction, as members come together to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas about a particular book.
This summer, Waterstone at Wellesley is harnessing these benefits with a Community-Wide Summer Read. All residents and staff were given a copy of David McCullough’s “The American Spirit.” Comprised of McCullough’s famous speeches to Congress, the public and college graduates, his book harkens back to the core American values we all believe, regardless of our geographic locations, political affiliations or ethnicities.
“This particular book has the ability to remind us of how much, as Americans, we have in common, and it can be a vehicle to bring people together,” said Jody Briggs, our life enrichment director.
Though books allow us to escape, they can also be a vehicle to confront our judgements and biases. In a time when our country is drastically divided, we’re using this initiative as a way to remind our residents and staff that we’re all part of one community and share common goals for what we’d like our community to accomplish.
We’re excited to challenge residents and staff to see from each other’s points of view and think about the role they play in shaping Waterstone at Wellesley’s future. We hope this initiative is one we can continue, and one that inspires people in our community to keep reading all year long.