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Blog

Staying sharp in retirement

24·01·14

While you may have planned to take it easy in retirement, studies have found that enjoying hobbies and activities at this time in your life will help boost brainpower into old age.

Researchers at Concordia University in Canada found that activities like reading, socialising and travelling helped keep participants’ brains younger for longer and reduced the risk of depression. The study suggested that the more enjoyable and mentally challenging the activities are, the less likely it is that you’ll experience cognitive decline later in life.

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society also found that games focused on processing speed, memory and reasoning ability helped baby boomers test better in cognitive function than those who didn’t do the training—even up to 10 years after the training had ceased.

If your new year’s resolution is to stay mentally active in retirement, consider a variety of enjoyable activities to get the most brainpower out of your day. Not sure what to do? Here are some ideas to get you started:

– To find a hobby that you’ll find enjoyable over the long term, think about the times in your life when you felt the most personal satisfaction.

– You’re never too old for adventure! Break the normal routine and do something a little scary, such as taking a class in something new, going hiking with the family or joining a club with people you don’t know.

– Make your hobbies and activities part of your daily routine and carve out time during the week to perfect your new skill.

– Following your passion involves planning. Behavioural scientist Dr Frank Niles, Ph.D., says: “Do your homework. Create a list of specific goals and a detailed plan of what it will take to achieve those goals. Create gateways (deadlines keep us motivated and moving) and benchmarks of success. And throughout, have trusted friends and colleagues hold you accountable.”

– You may like to try a few different things at first, to find out what you enjoy most. Try learning a new language or an instrument, do an art or photography class, take up fishing or golf, join a gardening or book club—the list is endless.

– Organisations like the University of the 3rd Age, TAFE and community neighbourhood houses run classes and courses in a variety of topics, specifically for older people who would like to learn new skills.

– You may enjoy writing your life story for your children and grandchildren to enjoy. Collect photos, videos and other memories to accompany your story and you’ll have a valuable heirloom that your family will treasure.

– You may like to use the knowledge you’ve built up over your career to mentor young professionals and help them achieve career success. Your workplace may offer a suitable program, or you can contact one of the many mentoring organisations across Australia.

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