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Reading and the Elderly

With increasing life expectancy in many countries, literacy skills in elderly people become more and more an issue. Who are "elderly" people, anyway? It is difficult to define a fixed age cut-off. Some studies, projects and initiatives work with retired people above 50, some with people around 70 or 80. Generally, seniors appear to be a very heterogenous population with diverse socio-economic, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds coupled with individually decreasing physical and cognitive capacities.

In 1994, the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) reported that seniors have lower literacy skills than any other segment of the population. To date, this pattern seems to be still in place with TV playing a central role in everyday life. The survey also found correlations between literacy level, health and poverty.

Nowadays, seniors need to function not only in terms of reading, but need to have other literacy skills such as health literacy, media literacy or financial literacy, too. Lets have a look at current projects (also have a look at Intergenerational Projects).


2012-11-20

E-Readers Help Elderly in the Silver E-Read Project

A recent study undertaken by researchers from the German Johann Gutenberg University Mainz in collaboration with MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH found no disadvantages to reading from e-books compared to print publications, despite most participants subjectively preferred reading traditional books best.

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2012-11-20

Children's Stories for Senior Readers

Elderly people are often confronted with mental health issues and isolation. Staff of an Australian archive for children’s literature came up with the idea to tackle these issues.

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2012-11-20

Shared Reading for the Elderly in the UK

More and more people are getting older, quite a couple of them feeling alone or isolated, even while staying in dedicated senior homes. What is more, dementia is on the rise, too. The project Get Into Reading developed a literature-based intervention model tackling those issues. The main feature of this model is that literature is read aloud and shared by all participants. Get Into Reading emphasizes classic literature as a tool for offering models of human thinking and feeling.

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Facts and figures

Meta study: Amount of reading per age group
Click on image to enlarge:

Meta study: Amount of reading per age group

Source: Arbeitsgruppe Lesen und Schreiben im Alter


TV consumption per age group and per day in West Germany
Click on image to enlarge:

TV consumption per age group and per day in West Germany

Source: Arbeitsgruppe Lesen und Schreiben im Alter


World Median Age
Click on image to enlarge:

World Median Age

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Reading and the Elder..