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How Seniors Can Stay Active by Learning New Skills

By Elmer George

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When you were younger, you looked at retirement as a time you could finally be done with school, work, and more such obligations. You would be able to relax, sleep in, and follow your heart wherever it led you.

Now that you're in retirement, you know that's only partially true. For many people, there's also boredom and losing a sense of purpose. Fortunately, seniors can help relieve both by learning new skills. Read on for some tips on how to adopt new proficiencies, and to learn how acquiring new skills can help you stay sharp.

Image Source: Pixabay

Why Seniors Should Keep Learning

One of the problems with getting older is how you have to work on keeping your mind healthy. Even without a serious problem like dementia, seniors can have problems with memory and cognitive function. That's because the brain isn't being stimulated like it was when you were younger.  

LCB Senior Living explains that keeping mentally active leads to a healthier brain. While learning a new language or solving puzzles won't technically make you more intelligent, any kind of learning can stimulate your brain. This stimulation can improve how your mind works, helping seniors remember things and think more clearly.  

Learning new skills can help you in several ways. Home Care Assistance explains that learning can help reduce memory loss, maintain your physical abilities, and improve how you speak to others. It also can improve your mood, because everyone feels accomplished when they finish the hard task of learning something new. There's even evidence suggesting learning can help fight against dementia and Alzheimer's.

Online Or In Person

Where can you go to learn something new and keep your mind sharp? A library is a time-tested place, but in this modern age, you can learn a lot over the internet. Almost all colleges and universities offer classes online. And as the AARP points out, a lot of these classes are free for seniors. Note that these free courses won't earn you college credit, but that's not the point. You can stimulate your mind with this learning, and you can do it at home on your own time.

Since technology is rapidly changing and becoming so important in daily life, take some classes on learning modern technology like the internet, smartphones, and apps. MakeUseOf.com lists several websites where seniors can learn these skills.  

However, your learning doesn't need to be done online. Many senior centers offer classes you can take in a wide variety of subjects, from learning Spanish to painting and sculpture. These meet in real life, so you can also use these opportunities to socialize and make some new friends. The same is true for book clubs and even gaming groups since you have to learn in these settings as well.  

The key to picking what to learn is to find a subject that you love. If you loved your time in the military, study military history or play board games focused on famous battles. If you enjoy movies, read up on how famous films were made or take a class in cinematography. The more you are passionate about a subject, the more you will love learning about it.

Training Your Pet Dog

Learning in classes and clubs helps because it stimulates your brain. You can do the same when you have a pet dog by building a training regimen for your pet. Such training helps your dog, but the challenge of training helps you learn new things as well.  

Rover.com lists several of the most important dog training skills, many of which aren't complicated to teach or for your dog to learn. They note, "Useful in so many situations, 'sit' is often the first command dogs learn. In fact, most dogs 'sit' on their own, so all you have to do is connect the command to the behavior." Besides sit, you should work on commands like "come," "stay," and "leave it." If you have a puppy, potty training is also a must.

Learning Helps Seniors

The last thing you want in your retirement is a long struggle with cognitive decline. That's why you need to start learning new skills. By taking free classes online, joining some clubs, and training your dog, you can help keep your mind healthy for years to come.

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