Keeping our brain healthy and active is important as we grow older. However, the tendency is to stop challenging ourselves to learn new skills. The reasons range from health concerns that may make it more difficult to get motivated to lack of belief in our abilities to learn new things.
If any of the following “reasons” look familiar to you, then you may be surprised to learn that there are real benefits to staying engaged and mentally active.
- We don’t feel we are capable
- We are disinterested
- We are tired of learning and just want to “relax”
- We’ve graduated and have learned all we need to know
- We lack opportunities
But studies have shown not only are we capable of learning a new skill, we are capable of learning multiple new skills, resulting in substantial gains mentally and physically. We are never too old to handle the mental load! In fact when we exercise our brains, it tends to rise to the challenge. The result can be a boost in the quality of your day-to-day mental functioning.
For example, stimulating activities have shown improvement in the following areas:
- Improvement in our working memory
- Greater ability to switch between tasks
- Improvement in short-term memory
- Improvement in disjointed memory or wandering memory
Why We Need to Learn New Skills
As we age, we may not feel as sharp as we once did. Symptoms of cognitive changes can vary from the mild and easily manageable to some that are more concerning and might require medical intervention. Certain medications can have an adverse reaction to memory and cognitive skills, so please check with your physician at the first concerning signs.
Common, age-related changes can include the following:
- Forgetting things more often
- Losing track while thinking or talking to others
- Feeling uncertain in otherwise familiar environment
- Forgetting important events
- Depression or anxiety
So one of the most important things we can do to avoid mental decline is to stay mentally active and stay socially involved.
The following are some engaging ideas for Seniors to pursue:
Learn a new language. We have a great opportunity in our community to learn a second language, Spanish.
Find a new hobby, ie: Start gardening, it could be as simple as a container garden of herbs or tomatoes, a patio planting, let your imagination run wild.
- Get a pet
- Volunteer – The Kennett Area Senior Center is always looking for volunteers to engage with our members.
- Spend time in nature, form a walking group with friends that will get you outdoors
- Read or listen to a book, join a book club
- Listen to podcasts on your smartphone
- Play board games
- Start writing, could be a daily journal, or a short story you want to remember
- Learn to play an instrument
- Sign up for a cooking class
There are many more things to experience and enjoy now that you have the time.
It’s never too late to learn. We just need a healthy dose of determination, focus and practice.
Here at KASC, we are all about keeping our participants engaged, while learning new skills and meeting new people. Let us know what you are interested in. We are always looking to add new programs to our schedule. It could be your idea.
“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old or that it’s too late
and show everyone that greatness doesn’t have an expiration date
If you’re still standing, then anything is possible.
Own your awesomeness and show everyone that greatness doesn’t have an expiration date” photo by Ryan Reinoso
Quote from Facebook, page “Life Quotes” no author listed