Active Adult Communities

3/13/2020 | By Terri L. Jones

Do you believe that you’re too old to learn new skills, particularly a few of them at once? Maybe you think you won’t have the focus. Or you may fear not being able to remember all of that new information. Well, recent research from the University of California Riverside (UCR) shows that your brain can learn multiple new skills simultaneously. Senior learning is valid! In turn, that level of learning will help you maintain cognitive function into old age.

Measuring the Brain’s Capacity to Learn

In the study, 42 participants in their 60s, 70s, and 80s took three classes at once. The courses, which included Spanish, music composition, painting, photography, and iPad use, occupied at least 15 hours of their time a week over the course of three months. Before the classes began, the participants’ thinking and memory capabilities were tested and then tested again halfway into their studies. Even at that early juncture, these scores had dramatically improved. In fact, these older students scored in line with those approximately 30 years their junior!

All cognitive experts agree that an older brain works differently than a younger one. But that certainly doesn’t mean your brain stops working. By continuing to push yourself to absorb new information and master new skills, you can maintain, even grow, your cognitive abilities through senior learning. (Apparently, the old adage, “use it or lose it,” applies to your brain as much as your body!)

In a July 2019 Science Daily article, researcher UCR psychologist Rachel Wu says that the key to keeping your brain fit is to mimic the way children learn. Be a virtual sponge for new information, seek out the support of instructors and mentors, and set your goals high. It may be intimidating at first to challenge yourself in this way; however, when you set your reluctance aside and take the risk, the rewards are more than worth it!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones