Recently studies have shown that keeping your brain active all through your lifetime can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and keep your brain sharp well into your senior years. “If you don’t use it, you lose it” is just as true for your brain as it is for your body. Many people find as they age when they attempt to play a sport that they haven’t played for a while it gets more and more difficult to achieve the level of expertise in the sport that they had when they were younger. The same is true for our brains. Our older brains have difficulty remembering things that were second nature to us when we were young. It is so important to keep our bodies and our brains in great physical shape as we get older.
Learning a new skill and forcing ourselves to remember things are both excellent ways to work our brains. In school we memorized the multiplication tables or a poem. How often do we do that as we age? Studies have shown that those that make a point of trying remember new information on a daily basis are sharper in their later years and can show a decreased incidence of dementia. Taking up a second language or a course in personal finance can help you with your brain function because the learning you are doing is cumulative, with a goal. Instead of memorizing useless information you are building a skill that will benefit you. This type of learning is more likely to hold your interest and because it is cumulative learning, that builds gradually, it creates strong neural pathways.
One of the most popular ways for us to learn as we get older is by taking up a new hobby. A hobby that you enjoy challenges you in a creative way. Your brain will benefit the most from a hobby that is entirely new to you and uses different pathways in your brain than you normally use. If you are not handy around the house, take a course in wood working. If you have never used a digital camera, buy one and take a course on how to use it. A hobby in photography can reawaken your creative abilities. A DSLR camera is an intricate piece of technology that offers the new user plenty of challenges.