Hey Baby Boomers, Learning Is the Greatest Strategy for Staying sharp.
“The truly educated never stop learning.”
I don’t know who said it, but it makes sense.
Learning, and a sense of curiosity, is one of the most important skills you can ever acquire.
- Listening to or learning to music will keep your mind flexible.
- Reading can open up the world of science, history, and technology.
- Learning can teach you another language.
- Learning yoga can help you breathe more fully, stand-up straight, and improve your sense of balance.
Learning new things will keep you healthy in body, mind, and spirit. There are always opportunities to learn.
Think of your brain as a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Sometimes we forget about that muscle between our ears, but it’s important to exercise it every day.
So why aren’t we reading and engaging more instead of laying in front of the t.v. or scrolling on our phones to Facebook, Twitter, or You Tube?
Because a lot of us are in a trance.
Television and social media have the power to hypnotize us until we are like junkies, obsessively flipping through channels or scrolling madly through posts unable to stop.
I know because I am guilty on both accounts.
I fell into the social media trap, spending hours commenting, liking, and posting on Facebook and Twitter. It was fun and entertaining, but too much of anything is not good.
Reading is one of my favorite pass times. Not only do I learn, but am entertained. It engages my imagination as I envision the characters, their voices, clothes, and musings. I see the landscapes and smell the air.
Reading takes me places I may never go, but it gets my neurons firing and will keep my brain flexible.
Where can you learn? You might go back to the classroom, but you can stay local and learn a lot.
Here are a few places that offer opportunities to expand your horizons, physically, socially, and intellectually at little or no cost.
“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson
I won’t point out the obvious, books, but libraries also have music collections, and some have stations where you can listen. Or you can drop a CD into a computer drive and bring your own ear buds.
Want to learn a language? Find a language CD.
Libraries also have lectures where you’ll meet a group of locals. And last but not least, the library is 100% free!
But you already knew it was free. Socialist institutions are like that.
2/ Choral Groups
“I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity, to see the faces of real people devoting themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that.” ~Paul McCartney
Whatever neck of the woods you live in, there are volunteer chorale groups eager to use your voice. Ability is not a requirement. You’ll blend. All you have to do is love to sing and commit to practices and performances.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a long-term commitment and some groups are seasonal.
Music activates the entire brain. It makes you feel energetic and there are well documented links between learning and music. It also has a calming effect and reduces stress.
Music contributes to neuroplasticity, giving your brain the ability to adapt, change, and form new neural pathways which come in handy in case of a stroke.
There’s just no down side to music whether you listen to, sing, or play it.
3/ Senior Centers
“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” ~ Samuel Ullman
You don’t have to be a senior, 65, to take advantage of your local senior center. Senior Centers offer physical exercise such as chair yoga, zumba and dancing; hobbies such as knitting, and art; and guest speakers. There is also the added bonus of meeting new people.
And if you’re knitting, painting or drawing, you’re using your hands. It’s good to keep our joints moving as well.
The fee is nominal and many centers provide transportation and meals.
Check your local newspaper or their website for the schedule of weekly activities.
“….(our) mission is to empower people to choose how they live as they age.” ~ AARP Mission Statement
Who doesn’t know AARP? (American Association of Retired People)
You don’t have to be retired or even retirement age. Anyone 50 or over is eligible to join.
AARP activities are a combination of social and educational events.
A few of the classes they offer include navigating the Medigap and Medicare insurance conundrum, fraud prevention, and tax advice.
Want to get out of the house? Check out their discounted travel packages or movie or theatre tickets.
If you enjoy history then, depending on where you live, AARP organizes tours of historic and popular destinations.
Volunteer networking meetings are provided for anyone who would like to share their talent.
You learn, you move, you schmooze.
If you prefer to move your mind more but body less, go to their website to read interesting articles on a variety of issues under Health, Conditions and Treatments; Family Caregiving; Scams & Frauds; Retirement; Social Security; and Money. In fact, AARP is leading the fight to protect Social Security.
“Real museums are place where Time is transformed into Space.” ~ Ohan Pamuk
Use that AARP discount to check out local museums. Art, science, and even children’s museums have unique ways of looking at the world and presenting their ideas.
They will help you to keep the creative juices flowing.
The common thread here is to exercise your brain. Whether it’s by reading, listening, or engaging with other people, you will learn.
Not smart you say?
Well, you’re not dead either or nailed to a wall. Maybe this is your chance to focus on the learning you didn’t care about earlier in life or didn’t have time for. As long as you have the desire, you can learn.
These activities may take a little research and effort on your part, but getting there is half the fun.