If you want to have a sharp brain into your 60s, 70s and 80s, there’s an obvious trick to doing it: Keep learning!
New research has shown that folks in those age groups have the minds of people up to 30 years younger when they get more education at their older ages. To find this out, researchers studied older adults learning new skills, such as Spanish, drawing , using an iPad and music composition.
The study’s participants took part in 15 hours of classroom time per week for three months. Then, they were given cognitive and functional assessments. Researchers compared the results to control groups with people who didn’t get the same education in those three months.
The results show we all need to stay in school forever if we want to be on top of things in our golden years!
The findings are important, experts say. This provides optimism for the future, showing that aging is a normal part of life and the brain works no matter what age we are.
Participants in the study said the intense learning structure was key.
“Just playing Scrabble is not enough. It doesn’t push hard enough,” Bob Grant, 63, of California, told NBC News .
Grant said he spent his life working in computers, so taking an art class was a different experience for him and he surprised himself learning to paint. He also said it took a lot of focus, which helped his cognitive ability.
The other benefit to being part of the study was making new friends, participants said.
The folks participating in the study also said they wanted to learn about things that could apply to daily life and things that can connect them to more youthful generations, which is why topics like using a tablet and learning Spanish were offered.
People who are aging don’t have to be learning a ton of stuff to succeed, either. Learning one skill at a time is enough to further a person’s episodic memory, the study, which was published in The Journals of Gerontology in June, said .
It’s more important to do different things than it is it to do multiple things, the research showed.
“An observational study with older adults found that variability in activity engagement is more beneficial than frequency of activity engagement,” the study’s authors declared.