January marks the start of the new year. Move on from new year’s resolutions that are often short-lived. Instead, use this perfect opportunity to become your best self and try new activities and learn new things. Integrating novelty into your daily life to stay stimulated and continuing to learn benefits the physical and mental health of elders. Here are a few ideas that will bring novelty into your life!    

Satisfy your eagerness to learn

You now have more time on your hands to learn new skills, find new hobbies, or simply learn for fun. This is one of the interesting perks of retirement. Retirees nowadays are more active and brighter than ever. Above all, don’t forget that there is no age limit to learning!

Besides, more and more Canadiens are returning to school once they retire. Did you know about the University of the 3rd Age? Foreign languages, music, literature, or visual arts courses: the perfect opportunity to explore your creativity.

Have you always dreamed of learning to play the piano but have never gotten around to it because of your thrilling professional or family life? Make the most of the learning experience, minus the exams! In addition, many educational institutions now offer customizable online training programs specifically designed for retirees.

Aside from academic training, there are several learning opportunities available to you based on your interests and motivations.

  • Do you like good wine? Why not take an œnology course?
  • Are you keen on crafting? Get started and learn to make soap, try weaving, or even learn floral art!
  • Do you love gardening? Many gardening centres offer free horticulture courses.
  • Does ornithology sound appealing? Take a photography course and immortalize your favorite birds!
  • Do you know your city like the back of your hand? Why not become a tourist guide?

Whether you challenge yourself by learning to cook a new recipe or by learning to play an instrument, all learning opportunities are appropriate to stay stimulated daily. Is there anything more gratifying than to successfully learn something new?

Many studies show that learning, no matter the method, heightens cognitive functions. They also show that within the retiree population, those who engage in cognitive activity show less signs of cognitive decline overtime.

The brain maintains its plasticity your whole life. In other words, learning is a bit like training a muscle. Acquiring new knowledge, like learning a new language, hence contributes to keeping the brain alert, healthy, and young. It also delays the onset of certain illnesses related to aging.

Break out of your routine

According to research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association, doing new things and changing your habits, even just a little, helps to maintain healthy brain cells. An active brain means higher energy! Breaking out of your routine will help you keep your brain alert and healthy for longer. How to do it? Here are a few pointers:

Don’t hesitate: improvise and brighten your days!

One morning, just go for it in the spur of the moment. Just go where the wind takes you, by car or by bike, without a specific destination in mind. You might stumble upon a new eye-catching park or discover a new coffee shop with a warm atmosphere where you can pause for a moment.

Simply switch up the order of your activities

Do you usually eat breakfast, read the newspaper, and then get dressed? What if you still do that, but switch up the order just to see what happens?

Cook new recipes

As trivial as it may seem, cooking a new recipe needs a good level of focus and a bit of cerebral work, all while making you discover new flavours and ingredients.

Conclusion

Learning not only benefits your cognitive functions, but it also brings a sense of achievement that will boost your self-esteem and cheerfulness.

By the way, don’t hesitate to rally your friends; you’ll make some wonderful memories.

Who knows? You might even develop new friendships.

Get to learning!

 

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Sources (mostly in French):

https://uta.ulaval.ca/sites/default/files/UTA/Brochure_UTA.pdf

https://www.aqdr.org/des-aines-qui-aiment-apprendre/

https://alzheimer.ca/fr/les-aides-et-le-soutien/je-suis-atteint-dun-trouble-neurocognitif/bien-vivre-avec-un-trouble-6

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