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How Simply Trying Something New is Lighting up the Lives of Seniors Everywhere

Whatever your age, learning a new skill, craft or game can positively impact your cognition, confidence, and mental acuity. One study in Psychological Science concluded that there are particular skills seniors can learn that will not only keep their minds active, but will directly improve their cognitive function.

The study identifies the value of sitting less and moving more, even if those movements are small and simple. Furthermore, it suggests that learning a new skill is not enough to create long term and sustainable changes in memory and cognitive function. Rather, seniors must continually engage in learning new skills.

It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas. “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

This is especially true for people already dealing with cognitive impairments such as dementia. Often as people age or deal with cognitive decline they remove themselves socially or stop doing things that offer mental challenges, which speeds up mental decline causing a downward spiral.

Offerings such as the Carefor Day Program for those living with dementia, are so essential to the overall well-being of seniors. Not only can trying a new hobby or skill improve brain functioning, but it also serves as a tool to socially connect and integrate seniors into society, new friend groups and communities.

Some particularly powerful new skills to learn in old age include:

  • Photography
  • Quilting
  • New exercises
  • Woodworking
  • Word/Board Games
  • Gardening
  • Music

Whether or not activating the brain by learning a new and challenging skill can slow down the pace of aging for the brain is still being studied. What is certain, is that every new skill developed will help increase the value and quality of one’s life and their ability to live, move and enjoy life independently.


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