It’s never too late to learn something new – and someone is never too old to dive into a completely new topic. Education happens over a lifetime, and lifelong learners are at a distinct advantage.
Learning new skills and topics as you get older increases cognitive skills like memory, boosts self-esteem, combats depression and promotes social connection.
Here are 5 easy ways to become — and stay — a lifelong learner
Try new recipes
Cooking new recipes with new techniques, ingredients and histories is a great way for older adults to explore something outside of their comfort zone. Cooking gives older adults the ability to hone motor skills, learn about new cultures and take a step outside of their everyday routine. Not into cooking, but love food? You can get many of the same benefits from ordering new dishes at a restaurant you’ve never tried. Better yet — get some friends together for the adventure. Nothing promotes social activity like getting together for a good meal.
Travel may not be in the cards for many older adults, but that doesn’t mean they have to stop exploring the world. Virtual travel, such as travel presentations, reading travel publications, virtual museums, tours and even live webcams can be a great way to explore the world from home.
Here are just a few to start:
Explore the British Museum Exhibits
Go on a virtual tour of the Guggenheim, including a tour for those who are blind or low vision
See the animals at the Bronx Zoo
Check on the pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo
Take a tour of Yellowstone National Park
Walk along the Great Wall of China
Pass through the Paris catacombs
Step into Rome’s Coliseum
Regardless of age and ability, there are so many ways for older adults to get out there and get active. For those who are more mobile, neighborhood walks are a great source of exercise or get the same benefits with a lower-impact exercise like swimming or pool aerobics. For those with mobility restrictions, chair yoga, tai chi and meditation can be a great way to exercise your body and mind. Exercise improves mental health, lowers risk of heart disease and diabetes, improves the immune system and promotes social engagement.
Pick up a new hobby
As you age, interests change — and that doesn’t go away when you hit your later years! This is the perfect time for older adults to pick up a hobby they’ve had in the back of their minds for their entire lives — like gardening, reading or model building. There are often groups around the city specifically created to engage older adults in these activities.
Creative activities have been shown to promote better cognitive function, increase memory, improve self-esteem and reduce stress in older adults. Plus, it’s often ability-friendly. Getting involved in painting, pottery, dance, theater and creative writing gives older adults a creative outlet and overall increases their quality of life.