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The Key to Happiness and Engagement for Seniors: Exploring Benefits of Learning Something New

For most individuals, learning new things is probably something we thought about in the past when we were in a classroom. However, as we age, learning new things still makes our world bigger, and it is beneficial for any age group.

If you believe it’s hard as a senior to learn or you believe the old cliché, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” you’re terribly underestimating the capacity of the human brain’s ability to regenerate. Continued curiosity and interest in the environment around us are some of the most important concepts of healthy aging.

It’s fun learning new things, and also extremely beneficial to preventing cognitive decline in our older years. Research indicates that continued learning and developing new skills activates the neuron receptors in our brains more efficiently. Plus, according to another research study, engaging cognitively and learning new skills can help preserve memory function in later years.

According to one study, older adults participating in learning new things for six weeks resulted in their brains being 30 years younger. Scientists in neuropsychology found that, for seniors, learning three new tasks at the same time boosts their cognitive skills and helps to protect their brains against Alzheimer’s disease.

I Don’t Want to Go Back to School

If you weren’t totally happy with formal education, and your train of thought is, “Why in the heck would I want to go back to studying every night, now that I don’t have to?” have no fear. You don’t have to sit through lectures, read textbooks, or worry about grades to earn the benefits of lifelong learning.

One of the benefits of learning new things is you get to pick what you want to learn about. Maybe you have always wanted to show your grandchildren some fancy computer skills, or you want to play the guitar for your family on a holiday. Look for a project you’re excited about, that makes you want to make a habit out of practicing. Put your creative thinking cap on when creating the learning environment that works best for you.

Therefore, seniors need to keep their minds and bodies healthy. Whether it’s watching an interesting program, learning a new recipe, or enrolling in an online or in-person course for a skill or diploma you always wanted to have, it is the perfect time to take part in any program or activity that stimulates your brain and allows you to seek new information.

Benefits of Learning New Things

The Benefits of Learning New Things

It Ensures that You Are More Active and Healthier

Seniors must keep an active brain. This not only increases your knowledge but also boosts communication skills and improves memory. An active mind helps prevent cognitive decline and other conditions associated with dementia. Think of your brain as if it’s a muscle – if you often stimulate it, you can boost its abilities. Just like when we work out our muscles to help us to stay fit.

It Boosts Your Emotions

Adding to your knowledge: Learning helps enhance your emotional well-being. For instance, when you learn new things your self-confidence grows; learning a new skill will make you proud of yourself in the same manner it did when you accomplished something in class at high school.

Furthermore, actively taking part in any form of learning gives you something to look forward to. It can give you a sense of purpose in life and meaning. All of this lifts you and brightens your day.

Social Engagement

For many seniors, loneliness or social deprivation can be a serious issue. When going unnoticed, it can happen for seniors who live alone, live in a skilled nursing facility, or live at home, where their children or caretakers work.

Taking part in an activity or an in-classroom setting will provide you with sharing your knowledge with other like-minded individuals. This, in turn, will lift any negative feelings you may be suffering from, as well as create an opportunity to form long-lasting meaningful relationships and friendships. On top of this, just think of the new ice-breakers you will have when discussing with others what you have learned! No one is ever too old to create new friendships.

Social Engagement
Oftentimes, seniors are encouraged to be active, but taking a walk around the block just doesn’t cut it. Exercising your body is great, but exercising your brain is important too. Science has proven that learning new and mentally demanding skills or activities are more likely to yield positive results for senior citizens to keep their mind sharp and, therefore, enhance the quality of their life.
By learning how to maintain a healthy mind, you will be able to make the most out of your golden years. Getting older and stepping out of your comfort zone leads to an overall improvement in your life.

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Defying Myths About Seniors Learning New Skills

Despite popular belief about not being able to “teach an old dog new tricks” memory loss is not inevitable when you get older. You may be “cut some slack” if you forget where you placed your keys. Yes, older people can take a moment to retrieve old memories. But, for this reason, it is important to keep your brain mentally sharp, and you have all it takes to do so.

Aging Through Art

Research on art, theater, music, creative writing, and other art exhibitions shows promising results for improving seniors’ quality of life and well-being, including: better memory, cognitive function, and self-esteem, increased social interaction, and reduced stress. The National Institute of Aging is studying the need for more exhaustive research, including new alternative research designs and measurements that can identify the cost advantage and efficacy of the art interventions.

Creativity can be a remedy for varying problems. Art and related activities can help seniors cope with the loss of a loved one, life transitions, deteriorating health, and social isolation. A group of seniors reported that participating in art class gave them a stronger sense of identity. Humanities and arts help to reduce boredom, depression, and anxiety.

Continued Education Keeps Your Skills up to Date

In an ever-changing world, trying to stay updated with current events, seniors need to keep upgrading their knowledge base. This is particularly true when it comes to technology, which has marched into our everyday lives and transformed how we learn, play, and work.
group of seniors
Embracing new ways of doing things we love to do helps us to stay on track with the rest of the world, and such, eliminating those emotions associated with feeling “left behind”. This confidence boost and enhanced self-esteem keep us happy, improve cognitive skills, and encourage us to keep moving up rather than giving up.

New Learning and New Skills: Ideas for Seniors

If you are looking for new things to learn or new skills to develop, pick an area that takes dedicated brainpower. While you might be tempted to pick an activity that seems easy or that you can right away master, that idea won’t give you all of the desired benefits of learning a new skill.

Artistic Activities

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Creative writing
  • Musical instrument
  • Woodworking
  • Photography

Active Practices

  • Golf
  • Billiards
  • Tennis
  • Gardening
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Bowling
  • Knitting

Social Games

  • Bridge
  • Monopoly
  • Dominoes
  • Mancala

Cultural Exploration

  • A new language
  • A new cooking style
  • A new destination
  • Meditation
  • Astrology
Learning New Things Keeps Seniors Happy and Engaged
Learning new things is the perfect way to keep your memory active. This happens because you are training your brain to think in various ways that are different from what your brain is normally used to.
Some individuals believe that children are more capable of learning than older adults. The fact of the matter is that children spend an immense amount of time in a classroom atmosphere compared to seniors when it comes to learning new things. WebMD reported the results of a survey of people over the age of 40 and found that 50% of those participating in the survey did not learn something new every week. If seniors were in the classroom all day, mimicking the routines of children, they would be just as capable of learning new things.
Some things aren’t as easy for older brains, but there are some things that aged brains can do better. As you grow, your brain changes the way it functions. It may not be quite as fast as when you were younger, but you use it more as an elder than when you are younger when completing certain tasks. This is why your brain is doing a better job than it was before.

Lower levels of testosterone in men and women mean that older brains are better at impulse control. After midlife, mood swings are less likely to interfere with your thinking and decision-making.

Learning new things is a lifelong process that benefits individuals of all ages. Contrary to popular belief, older adults have the capacity to learn and acquire new skills, and it is crucial for them to keep their minds active and healthy.
***Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any further questions or concerns you may have with your provider.***

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