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Try these 3 brain-stimulating activities

July 27, 2015

Getting out there and trying new activities or continuing old hobbies will lead to healthy aging for older adults. After retirement, it can be challenging to stay busy and maintain an active lifestyle when your schedule is a little less full than youre used to. However, this is a time to incorporate new activities into your daily routine - it can help to open your eyes to an exciting side of life youve never experienced before. If youre searching for ways to keep your brain stimulated, consider adding one of these activities to your regular schedule. 

1. Volunteer
The Corporation for National and Community Service recently noted that the baby boomer generation has the highest volunteer rate in the U.S. compared to any other age group. Participating in volunteer opportunities has a variety of benefits on all aspects of the body. For example, you can keep an eye out for volunteer programs that require some physical activity, such as outdoors tasks like gardening. However, its important to remember that even getting up and making your way to a program a couple times a week will have physical health benefits, especially if youre a movie enthusiast and would have spent a large portion of your day in front of the television. 

"Baby boomers have the highest volunteer success rate."

Research has also shown that volunteering has positive impacts on mental wellness, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Spending time with others and working toward a cause does more than connect you with like-minded people - it also provides feelings of fulfillment.

So how do you go about finding volunteer opportunities? Aside from simply looking into programs at local nonprofit organizations or places like animal shelters or schools, there are websites that make finding the perfect volunteer opportunity easy. For example, VolunteerMatch enables users to enter a topic that theyre interested in - something like animals, arts or education - and it directs them to any relevant local volunteer opportunities.  

2. Learn to play an instrument
You dont have to be a major music fan to find learning a new instrument fun and interesting. Whether you started to learn guitar when you were younger and want to fulfill an old goal or simply love the idea of being able to play along to your favorite tunes, theres no doubt that this new hobby has plenty of health benefits for the brain. Consider joining a local group of older adults who are also learning an instrument.

Learning how to play an instrument is a fun and engaging way for adults to stay active.

According to the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, learning how to play an instrument has a multitude of healthy side effects. Some of these include exercising the brain, avoiding mental health conditions like depression, increasing socialization, reducing stress and even fighting memory loss. Asking a family member at home or a friend at your assisted living community who knows how to play the instrument of your choice can serve as a perfect bonding experience. If you want to practice on your own, YouTube is another great resource and you can usually find a video of the exact song you want to learn on the site.

""Classrooms are filled with different perspectives."

3. Go back to school
AARP noted that the number of graduate and postgraduate students between the ages of 50 to 64 is steadily increasing throughout the U.S. However, while working toward a degree is a great goal to have, going back to school can also include enrolling in a couple of classes at your local community college that interest you. Classrooms are filled with different perspectives and people from all walks of life, serving as the ideal place to stimulate the brain and engage with new people.

Dont think that because you arent a teenager working toward a bachelors degree that you wont qualify for financial aid, as aid is offered to students of all ages. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and see how much federal aid youre awarded. Then check out scholarships that are available to older students specifically. To see which ones are available for you, visit StudentScholarshipSearch where you will have to enter your birth date. Based off of your age, you will then be directed to all available opportunities.