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What will you learn this year?

By Ruchi Sinha

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We all know youth is not everlasting and ageing is inevitable.  Our brain too undergoes ageing. Who doesn’t want an active brain for life; but it is a dream scenario for many.  In fact, as we age it’s time to learn new things. When one learns new things the brain remains active and healthy in one’s old age.

Benefits of learning something new

Our brain needs new challenges to keep it active.  However, due to ageing, the changes in our brain can make our memory weak.

  • Keeps the brain matter healthy – As we age learning become difficult as brain’s white matter, or myelin diminishes. Learning new things in old age deters demyelination in brain. This aids in strengthening the brain’s connections, improving performance oriented skills, giving us an active brain and may keep dementia at bay.
  • Improves learning speed: The brain also loses its grasping powers in old age. In such a scenario, our brain’s neurons need constant stimulation. The process of learning stimulates neurons and creates new neural pathways. This, over time, improves the learning speed, and quickens the grasping powers and processing ability of an ageing brain.
  • Ideal creativity booster: It’s said that being creative is healthy for one’s brain. When you learn new things brain’s creativity level gets enhanced. Being creative in your late years is a wonderful thing, as it keeps boredom at bay, promotes a sense of fulfilment and boosts overall mental well-being.
  • Change adapter: Ageing makes us reluctant towards change. It’s beneficial to learn new things for your ageing mind as creates an open mind and helps to accept change.

Safe and easy options for a new hobby this year

It is possible to stay nimble and have a sharp mind even in your old age.  When one leads an active social life and is physically active the brain is also healthy. New research suggests that an active life in old age sharpens memory and enhances the thought process.  Things like Tai Chi, swimming, walking, gardening, painting and drawing, playing an instrument, cooking and knitting can be safely learned by elders in your family.

  • Any physical activity boosts one’s brain health. We may have weak muscular strength in our old age. Hence, a physical activity like Tai Chi, that involves very little strain can be learned to lower the risk of falls, reduce pain and boost overall fitness levels. One can also choose swimming, which is another low impact exercise. It is beneficial in lowering symptoms of arthritis, and reducing joint pain. It’s a safe exercise for elders but, like all other exercises, should be done under guidance. Walking is the most effective and safe exercise for elders.  One can also do gardening as a hobby as it involves little physical strain. It’s a good memory booster, attention elevator, stress reducer and mind relaxer for you in your old age.
  • Art is another safe activity that calms the ageing mind.  When one learns art one betters their own motor skills, creativity, concentration levels and mental health.
  • Music is pleasant to listen to and extremely relaxing. It benefits the brain by improving cognition, soothing the mind, boosting coordination skills and retention powers.
  • Similarly, cooking stimulates the senses and boosts happiness levels in one’s old age.
  • Knitting is yet another creative activity with little strain which can be done safely by elders. When you knit, you get a therapeutic feel and strengthen your finger muscles. This keeps your fingers dexterous and agile.

If each one of us adapts these in our old age. It will go long way in giving a healthy brain in our later life. This improvement in brain health is the key to a happy and active senior life.

 

Resources:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/senior health/staying sharp.aspx.

https://www.nataliesession.com/11 benefits learning something new.

https://ccsuconed.wordpress.com/2107/1/23/the top 7 benefits of learning a new skill.

https://consumer.healthday.com/senior citizen information 31/senior citizen news 778/keep moving to keep  brain sharp in old age 741636 html.

https://www.connectionsc.com/2017/09/29/13 fun activities for elders.

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