It’s long been recognized that keeping fit improves both our physical and mental health. But how many of us spend as much time exercising our minds as our bodies? Research continues to show that learning something new in older age is fulfilling, and can be life-changing.
Reaping the benefits
Recent studies show that learning a new skill in later life really does pay off, with major benefits including:
Enhanced cognitive function
A study published in Psychological Science invited a group of adults aged between 60 and 90 to learn something new over the course of 3 months. All showed memory improvement at the end of the study. Those who tried the more complex skills such as digital photography or quilting showed the most memory improvement.
Improved social life
By attending a crafts class or club such as a quilting group, you’ll be expanding your mind and your social circle too. Social interaction on a regular basis helps combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, and provides motivation to get out and about.
Sense of purpose
Drawing, painting or crafting gifts like quilts, tapestries and greetings cards brings a sense of achievement and will give pleasure to others too.
Music to senior ears
A recent study has found that learning to play a musical instrument can protect the brain against dementia. The study demonstrates the brain’s ability to rewire itself as learning to play a musical instrument could improve a person’s hearing skills in a way not achieved when simply listening to music. The study’s author Dr Bernhard Ross suggests that the brain may be able to compensate for diseases that might otherwise hamper a person’s capacity to perform normal daily tasks.
Learning a new language involves a whole variety of memory, aural and logic skills. One study showed that speaking two or more languages can slow age-related cognitive decline. The really good news is that the results were still positive in those who didn’t learn the second language until adulthood. ¡Excelente!
Time to start studying
Sometimes, there can just be too much choice of classes, courses or activities. Here’s a few suggestions on how to pick the best for you.
- Pick a subject you enjoy or you’ve always been curious about. You’ll feel more motivated to attend and to do any ‘homework’!
- Begin with a weekly class, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. You don’t need to sign up for a whole semester either. Look out for short courses as a taster, such as a morning Thai cookery class, a weekend writing workshop, or a month-long sugarcraft for beginner’s course.
- Chat with friends and neighbors to discover what classes or regular activities they enjoy. They might even invite you along as a guest to try out a new hobby, and possibly share transport too.
When it comes to learning opportunities for seniors, Calgary is a great place to live! The Calgary Kerby Centre (for the 55 plus) offers a wide range of educational and recreation activities through a variety of classes and drop-in sessions. These include drawing, painting, calligraphy, photography, Spanish, line dancing, knitting and woodcarving. You can even learn to play the ukulele!
If you’d like to study in more depth, The University of Calgary waives tuition fees related to all undergraduate bachelor’s level courses for all students aged 65 years of age or older.
Get motivated with The Manor Village
Our Residents here at The Manor Village Life Centres are never short on activities to help expand their minds! Our monthly calendar has a huge variety of activities to choose from, including regular card games, chess, puzzles, word games and trivia quizzes, art sessions, pottery and painting. We also have special crafts events run by local artisans who come to share their interests, knowledge and experience in hands-on events from Easter bonnet making to jewelry making.
Want to join in the community fun? Call us to book your personalized visit to any of our Calgary senior living communities today.