Listen to the audio version of this article

Senior man with headphonesReading is a basic skill we rely on daily. There is little we do that does not involve an interpretation of words to do a task, learn a skill, write a letter or send an email.  Yet, as critical as reading is to our lives, we know that somewhere along the path we may lose the visual acuity required to read.

If you are a senior, prescription glasses, or non-prescription ’cheaters’, are typically a must-have for carrying out daily tasks and enjoying day-to-day activities. But when it comes right down to reading a book, an action that requires the continual use of your eyes, the glasses are not always so helpful or conducive to the task.

But wait, you can still get carried away to faraway places, learn something new, laugh out loud. You can do all these things with your ears. If your eyes aren’t up for the task, this is a problem that is easily solved. Audiobooks bring the text to your ears, whether those ears are with or without hearing aids. You don’t have to give up a favorite pastime just because you no longer enjoy the process of reading.

How to get started?

The first step is having an easy to operate listening device, like an MP3 player, iPod or even a smart phone. If one is needed this website offers information specific to seniors. Although the article was written in 2010 the pointers for what to look for are still valid. “Senior Friendly Guide to MP3 Players”, Max Baumgarten, April 30, 2010, http://eldergadget.com/senior-friendly-guide-to-mp3-players/.

A more current source that also provides pointers and suggestions is: Best Portable Device for Audio Books – MP3 Player, January 18, 2017, http://www.sound-beat.com/best-portable-device-for-audio-books-mp3-player/.

Finding earbuds, and headphones that work with hearing aids.

Earbuds and headphones vary and are chosen to fit specific needs. Two articles that provide current information specific to Seniors:

  1. “Headphones And Hearing Aids (Can You Wear Both?), Reviewed by Lindsey Banks, Au.D., Updated: January 27, 2017, https://www.everydayhearing.com/hearing-aids/articles/headphones-and-hearing-aids-can-you-wear-both/.
  2. “Best Headphones For Senior Citizens & Elderly”, By TrioBest, March 31, 2017, http://www.triobest.com/best-headphones-for-senior-citizens-elderly/.

Where to find an Audiobook?

The library is a good place to begin looking for audiobooks. Most libraries offer an option to checkout, really to download, audiobooks from their website or affiliated sites. There are different means for downloading and the library’s website will offer specific directions on how this can be accomplished.

Many libraries have teamed up with Hoopla, a digital media service that provides access to world of audiobooks, as well as music, movies and more. If your library has an affiliation it would be a wonderful source for audiobooks. More information can be found at the Hoopla website, https://www.hoopladigital.com/.

LibriVox is an online source for free public domain audiobooks. It’s a non-commercial ad-free service that offers audiobooks that have been recorded by volunteers. The audiobook titles found on this site have been chosen by the volunteers. Here’s a link to get you started:  https://librivox.org/.

In addition to providing a vast number of audiobooks, LibriVox offers information on choosing an audio player: “Choosing a Digital Audio Player”, http://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/Choosing_a_Digital_Audio_Player.

Project Gutenberg began in 1971 and offered free digital versions of books in the public domain. Today the Project Gutenberg website offers ‘human-read’ and ‘computer-generated voice read’ audiobooks in addition to their vast collection of eBooks. Their human-read audiobooks are by volunteers. You can find more information on finding their audiobooks here: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/ Gutenberg:The_Audio_Books_Project.

For those who would consider a fee based service, it is important to include a well-known online company that offers ‘audible books’ to those with a membership. Find out more about Audible, an Amazon company, here: https://www.audible.com/

Let Your Ears Carry You Away!

Watch only the television shows you enjoy and don’t let the media plan your day’s entertainment. Instead, listen to audiobooks that really interest you. If your library is affiliated with Hoopla and you’ve an interest in history, borrow Hoopla’s audiobook’s offering of “The Miracle of Dunkirk”, by Walter Lord, the story behind the miracle based on interviews with survivors.  Is it mystery you enjoy? The Gutenberg project includes audiobooks of Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings.

If you are a Senior with visual difficulties, you don’t have to give up a favorite pastime. You can still get carried away to faraway places, learn something new, and laugh out loud. You can do all these things with your ears.