Seniors are frequently encouraged to participate in physical activities such as walking or exercising. While this takes care of their physical well-being, actively learning a new skill can improve their mental and emotional health. Engaging in activities and learning new skills that both challenge and entertain you is a great way to make the most of your independent living in Estero, FL.
Consider what skills you or a loved one would like to learn. Are they physical skills that must be learned outside, or indoor skills that can be learned at home? You may want to consider all options carefully depending on your limitations or any potential barriers that may prevent you or a loved one from learning.
Boosts Cognitive Function
Active learning and the application of new skills strengthen brain connections and sharpen cognitive abilities. Dancing or learning a new instrument are excellent options to start with. They allow you to progress at your own pace and you can even learn them online. Learning to play the piano, the guitar or the ukulele can improve eye-hand coordination and stimulate the mind. Dancing is a form of physical activity and aids in the release of endorphins, or “happy hormones,” which help boost cognitive functioning.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Many older adults lead sedentary lifestyles as a result of isolation, or simply because they are depressed or anxious. This can be detrimental to their cardiovascular health, especially if they are at a higher risk or are predisposed to this condition. Signing up for activities that get you or your loved one out and about is a great way to promote both emotional and physical well-being. Learning basic yoga or dance forms such as ballroom dancing, line dancing or Jazzercise are some constructive physical activities you can engage in.
Offers Therapeutic Benefits
If you’re artistic, having a creative outlet can help you reduce intrusive thoughts and combat boredom. Watercolor painting, photography, scrapbooking, embroidery and flower arranging are a few of the creative skills you or a loved one can learn in the comfort of your own home or retirement community. They can be a great form of catharsis and thus provide therapeutic benefits. The best part is that you can practice these artistic skills daily, giving you and your loved one a sense of purpose. This helps promotes a strong sense of self, lowers anxiety, and promotes mental health.
Promotes Social Connectedness
There are several advantages to learning a skill as part of a social group. Feelings of isolation and disconnect from one’s community are common among the elderly and can contribute to anxiety and depression. Learning a new skill allows them to branch out and connect with other seniors, fellow residents or neighbors. Sharing interests and stories fosters a sense of belonging and provides you or a loved one with something to look forward to each day.
Learning a new skill requires exercising your cognitive capacity, which sharpens your senses, increases alertness and reduces the risk of age-related mental illnesses like dementia. It is also known to improve functional independence and provide a sense of accomplishment as you strive to achieve skill-related goals, contributing to holistic well-being and improving your quality of life.