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Perhaps retirement is just around the corner, or you might even be retired and looking for something new to challenge your mind and body. You’ve thought about taking a stab at something new, and somewhere in the back of your mind, there’s a little negative voice telling you that you’re just too old to learn new tricks. What if we told you that picking up a new to challenge your mind, fun passion could provide lots of great health and wellness benefits?
It’s true: folks who become lifelong learners are 2.6 times less likely than their brain-idle counterparts to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to a study by the Rush Memory and Aging Project. But there are a lot of other benefits, too.
Let’s look at a few new, healthy tricks that seniors should consider giving a go.
For The Frequent Concert Goer: Learn To Play A Musical Instrument
Learning how to play a musical instrument has unique benefits for seniors. Play the Tunes has an article explaining the differences between learning piano vs. guitar as well as the benefits of learning to play and instrument. Taking up an instrument has been shown to provide those aged between 60 and 85 “more robust gains in memory, verbal fluency, the speed at which they [process] information, planning ability, and other cognitive functions” over seniors who opted out of music lessons, according to a study reported by National Geographic. The internet makes it easier than ever to learn how to play just about any instrument under the sun, thanks to a variety of online music lesson offerings. This may be an especially great way for seniors with limited mobility to expand their horizons, since not only can you learn to play from the comfort of home, you can even buy your instrument online.
For The World Traveler: Learn A New Language
You might not need to learn a new language to beef up your resume, but maybe you’re thinking about traveling more now that you’re retired. Whatever your reason, learning a new language has many scientifically-proven benefits, such as improved multi-tasking skills, decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, improved memory, and increased perception. Learning a new language is available right at your fingertips with a number of free apps.
For The Creative Type: Take Up Photography
Maybe you’ve always thought you had a special knack for taking photos, but never took it any further. Now would be a good time to consider actually studying photography. Aside from the rest of your family having a knowledgeable photographer to document every family get-together, learning photography can also help to alleviate stress, boost your creative side, bring you closer to nature’s great beauty, and open your eyes to new sights. Review the various online classes, and see which one might be right for you.
For The Life-long Scholar: Get Ready to Learn
Now that you’ve honed your skills and further developed your hobbies it’s time to learn more about your passions by attending an online university. We recommend going online instead of in-person so you can continue to work and study at your own pace. Some online colleges, like WGU, also offer classes without due dates on assignments so you don’t have to stress about work and school at the same time. Plus, getting a degree in something you love, like IT, also looks great in future job applications.
For The Dog Lover: Pet Training
Perhaps you’ve got a dog who could use a few extra lessons in congeniality. There are many great reasons to spend more time with your dog, like decreasing symptoms of depression, exercising together, lowering your blood pressure, and improving your mood. Take time to teach your canine companion some basic commands:
- Sit. This one is basic but important! As Cesarsway.com notes, “A dog who knows the ‘Sit’ command will be much calmer and easier to control than dogs who aren’t taught this simple command.”
- Come. This is an essential command that can keep your four-legged friend from causing trouble.
- Down. Teaching your dog to lie down can keep them safer in public places, but it isn’t the easiest of commands. The supine position is one of submissiveness for your pet, and it may take a little extra time to learn.
- Stay. Once they master the “sit” command, your dog is ready to move on to the more challenging “stay” command.
Challenge yourself to be a lifelong learner, and reap the benefits. Recruit a friend to join you, and the added socialization factor will also work to decrease your risk of cognitive decline. It’s never too late to teach a young-at-heart dog new tricks.