Put aside that anti-aging cream and pick up that French dictionary because today, we’re going to age backwards by expanding the brain! Learning a new skill or task can have amazing benefits for the body, whether it’s emotional or physical health. Here are four ways learning can keep you young.

Brain Health

It’s no secret that learning new activities will help ward off memory loss. The brain, like muscles and other organs in the body follow the popular rule - if you don’t use it, you lose it. Some studies now suggest that the types of learning activities you choose does matter for brain health. They say that learning simple activities, like brain games, do help maintain short-term memory, but learning difficult activities like quilting or digital photography, strengthen entire networks in your brain. There’s never been a better excuse to pick up a new hobby! Check out this article from NPR to learn more about the amazing benefits of learning a new skill.  

Employment

For those not quite on the retirement journey, the 9 to 5 daily grind is an important part of life. You may have worked at the same job in the same company for twenty or more years, but chances are, the technology and processes important to your job have changed. To stay at the top of your employment game, you have to be adaptable to change, you have to embrace learning new things. Take a seminar in your field, learn a new process, volunteer for extra duties outside your comfort zone. It may not literally take off  years, but you’ll feel younger from 9 to 5.

Social and Emotional Health

As we grow older, our social groups change. Friends may move away or even pass away. Luckily, many social groups offer learning activities. It’s a win-win--learn a new skill or activity while developing friendships. Strong social structures provide support, combat depression and overall bring joy to life. Many organizations like the YMCA or senior centers provide groups for older individuals with similar interests. Try the swimming class at the “Y” or learn bridge at the senior center. You may just make a few friends.


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Family

You wouldn’t necessarily associate lifelong learning with family, but an ever-widening generational gap has made “keeping up with the times” necessary to relate to our kids or grandkids. Technology has become a huge part of how young people communicate, and learning about these communication modes - social media, video chat, tablets and the like -- will help families keep connected while at the same time promoting lifelong learning. Strong families, like strong friends provide emotional support that is so important along the aging journey.