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Better Brain Health Through Books at The Ackerly at Timberland

Reading at The Ackerly at Timberland

Alissa Sauer

American author Lloyd Alexander advises, “Keep reading. It’s one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have.” If that’s true, the residents at The Ackerly at Timberland are on a grand adventure. Take a closer look at how the Portland senior living community celebrates reading. 

The Ackerly at Timberland is an independent living, assisted living, and memory care community in Portland. We offer a robust calendar of daily activities that engage and interest residents on various levels. One of the more popular activities at The Ackerly at Timberland is reading. Reading is vital to building brain health for older adults.

Reading for Better Brain Health

Studies have shown that one of the most effective (and one of the easiest) ways to improve cognitive health is through reading. In fact, the National Institutes of Health considers reading books one of the primary ways to stay mentally sharp in retirement because of the unique way reading strengthens brain connections.

One of the best-known studies in this area was done by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers enlisted 300 older adults and tested their memory and thinking ability every year for six consecutive years. They answered in-depth questions about reading habits since childhood. After their deaths, at an average age of 89, scientists studied their brains for physical evidence of dementia, including lesions, plaque, and protein tangles. They found “higher levels of cognitive activity in childhood, middle age, and old age was associated with slower rates of cognitive decline.” Those activities included reading books, visiting a library, and writing letters.

The study found that those who reported being avid readers well into old age also showed as much as 30% less memory function loss than those who used other forms of cognitive activity.

Reading at The Ackerly at Timberland

The Ackerly at Timberland has a large library overflowing with books and reading material. Recently, we had to add more shelves to house our books. Books are readily available to residents at all times, including in our library and lobby, where residents are encouraged to borrow books regularly.

Every Sunday, we take our bus to the library, and we have a few residents who are regulars for this trip. We have frequent trips to Powell’s City of Books, a local, beloved independent bookstore.

Our community also hosts a “Book Potpourri,” where residents gather and talk about books they’ve been reading recently and their recommendations. It differs from a regular book club by not focusing on one book each individual needs to read and encourages a more diverse discussion.

Reading is just one way that our residents stay mentally active and engaged in their lives. Contact The Ackerly at Timberland today to learn more about our unique approach to senior wellness that expands health beyond the walls of the gym – even to the library! 

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