Senior Living: August is a great month to learn something new

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By Beth Dow, Solutions By Beth

August is back to school month. At my age, that means the grandkids are going back to school, watching for school buses that are on the road, and avoiding the back to school crowds at the big box stores.

Once you are of a certain age, the month that signifies new experiences, new relationships, and new learning is just another month. But what if this year it’s not? What if this August we look at what learning something new could do for us?

If you are wondering why in the world would you want to learn something new, here are a few things to ponder.

No 1. Learning something new will change your brain chemistry. Myelin is the white matter in your brain that helps improve performance. The more you practice a new skill that you have learned, the more dense the myelin which then helps you learn even better.

No. 2. Learning something new will help increase the speed at which you learn. When you stimulate the neurons in the brain, more neural pathways are formed and electrical impulses travel faster across them. The more pathways, the faster the impulses can travel.

No. 3. Learning something new could stave off dementia. Dementia has been linked to demyelination of the brain. Demyelination disease is a condition that results in damage to the protective covering that surrounds the nerve fibers in your brain. When these fibers are damaged, nerve impulses slow down and can even stop. People who actively learn new skills don’t give their brains an opportunity to demyelinate.

No. 4. Learning something new may involve going to a class which will provide social engagement. Social isolation is one of the most detrimental factors to your health. People who are socially engaged are happier, healthier and live longer than those who are not.

No. 5. Learning something new may involve exercise. Exercise releases endorphins. So exercise can help both your mind and your body.

Hopefully you are convinced that learning something new should be in your near future. If you need some help deciding what that new thing could be, here are some suggestions: painting, dancing, pickle ball, photography, pottery, poker, a musical instrument, cooking, swimming, golf, writing, knitting, and there is so much more!

Regardless of age learning something new is great way to stay active, stave off boredom, depression, loneliness and memory problems, live happier and longer.

This August don’t let the kids have all the fun. Get learning!

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Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd, Geriatric Case Manager and Certified Senior Advisor. Contact her at [email protected].

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