How Audio Books Changed My Visually Impaired Grandmother’s Life
Developing a visual impairment need not be the end of a senior citizen’s love of books. The fact is that audiobooks can be a tremendous way for older individuals to maintain a beloved hobby without having to hoist a book or struggle to read the printed page. Researchers have revealed that just hearing a story and being able to imagine the setting and the characters involved is extremely stimulating for the mind. Indulging in a good book on tape is a wonderful way to keep loneliness at bay, maintain an active mind and ward off depression while also lowering the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments.
It is not until reading becomes difficult that many realize just how crucial books are to their lives. My own grandmother is a prime example of this. When she was a small girl, the world came alive to her through the magic of books. When she was just five years old, she spotted a shelf full of books in her little town’s one-room schoolhouse. Once her teacher noticed her looking at the volumes, she started instructing her in the art of reading. It did not take long for an ongoing romance with the written word to take root. A lifelong love of reading was born.
In time, the youngster from the country became a fiercely independent horse farm owner in Texas who labored hard during the day and read voraciously at night. However, by 2008, glaucoma was robbing her of sight in one of her eyes and causing shadows to plague the other. Her declining vision resulted in having to let go of typical farm tasks and routines. As such, she felt as though her identity was being taken from her in one of the cruelest possible ways.
It had become impossible for her to continue driving, provide for her numerous horses or even read books rendered in large typeface. The sadness she felt was palpable. It was soon after that one of her daughters recommended trying the audiobooks that were available at the library nearby. Grandma was reluctant at first, thinking that part of what made reading so satisfying was being able to turn each page and see what came next. However, there finally came a point when she was willing to try. The boredom she was feeling was just too much, and since the audiobooks were free, there was nothing to lose. Not only was she pleasantly surprised by the audiobook experience, she soon became somewhat addicted to them! She was once again able to lose herself in the worlds so brilliantly created by her favorite mystery writers. She reclaimed a substantial part of who she was.
For everyone who loves this wonderful lady, declining eyesight in no way clouded what we saw as her tremendous qualities of strength and grace and fierce independence. However, now that she is able to resume her love of literature in this new and different way, we can see how she has blossomed even further than we thought possible. Incredibly, she is even developing a book idea of her own about the trials and tribulations of those with long lifespans.