In your sixties, a lot of things change. You’re going to retire soon, which is a major life change, or you’re already retired, and you’re looking for new activities to enjoy in everyday life. And you have the desire to learn a couple of new skills or go back to school, which is why you might wonder, can you learn after 60?
As a general rule, learning time is longer at an older age. Research shows that seniors in their 60s can excel at learning when they’re challenged mentally every day. Exercise can increase the ability to learn. Being physically active nurtures the growth of new brain cells. Therefore learning is easier for 60-years-olds with an active lifestyle.
Now that you know that you can learn after 60, let’s dive in deeper because, in this article, I share scientific proof of why learning is ageless, the benefits to learning after 60, how to learn best, and what new things to learn when you’re 60 years or older. So let’s start unpacking.
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Scientific Proof That Learning Has No Age Limit
The public opinion is that learning is hard at an older age. Some people have heard it’s impossible or maybe you’ve experienced that learning is more difficult compared to when you’re were younger. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading my article right now. Well, let me prove you otherwise.
We all know that kids are like sponges and that learning becomes easy for them, which is very true. Only that doesn’t mean that learning at an older age isn’t possible. Often we stopped learning because we dedicated our time elsewhere. Kids spend their whole childhood at school learning new things and skills. And because life is new to them, they even continue learning outside school. This is the key to their success. Learning is easy for them because they do it every day.
According to this research with 60-year-olds and older participants were challenged to learn at least three new skills simultaneously for 3 months. “Learning multiple skills simultaneously increased cognitive abilities in older adults by the midpoint of the intervention, to levels similar to performance in a separate sample of middle-aged adults, 30 years younger.” This means your brain will function younger when challenged thoroughly enough, and learning becomes easier as you challenge yourself mentally regularly.
And according to a study, 60-year-olds often underestimate the power of their brain memory and ability to learn. Also, the lack of confidence keeps them from pursuing learning new things. Then it becomes a downward spiral when you don’t challenge your brain frequently, which will result in you noticing that it becomes harder to learn new things, and then your confidence goes down, and then you’ll resist learning, etc. And you’re off down the rabbit hole. Perhaps even up to the point that you’re convinced that you can’t learn anything after 60.
To make learning easy at 60 is to keep learning as you age. Learning rewires the brain and optimizes the brain through a process called myelination, no matter the age. It’s the process where you experience becoming better at a skill with time and practice.
Now that you know that you CAN learn after 60. But to give you an extra push, here is an inspiring story of Oneita Sumsion. 90 years old, and graduated with a journalism degree from Brigham Young University in Utah in June 2020. And she is not the only one. Countless 70, 80, and 90-year-olds graduate from colleges and universities across the country. If that doesn’t prove to you that learning is ageless, then I don’t know what will. Perhaps the next chapter might give you that extra motivation you need to start learning or challenge yourself academically even more.
Benefits Of Learning For Older Adults
Whatever you want to learn, it’s not only fun but also very good for you.
Improves Your Brain Health
According to Frank Benedict Marxer, a geriatric specialist at Piedmont, mental activity can reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dementia.
Improves Your Brain Function
Learning improves your learning performance and improves your cognitive functions in the brain, such as your concentration, attention to detail, memory, and problem-solving skills. Your brain reshapes itself with mental activity. Just as physical exercising, you train your muscles to become stronger. Learning does the same to your brain. Your brain is malleable also at an older age, so when you train it, it becomes stronger. According to Harvard Medical School, “Practicing a new and challenging activity is a good bet for building and maintaining cognitive skills.“
Boosts Your Confidence
Learning something new and experiencing your growth is a major confidence booster. You’ll feel more empowered, which helps to create a more positive mindset. And gives you the motivation to keep going and expanding.
Creates Opportunities To Socialize
Depending on what you’re learning and where you’re learning, it creates opportunities for making friends. If you go back to school or attend a class, you’ll meet like-minded people. And staying socially stimulated is one of the keys to happiness in retirement.
Did you know that more than 40 percent of seniors experience loneliness regularly? According to the University of California, this can be the cause of serious health problems and even death because loneliness is just as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
It Gives You A Purpose
Learning a new skill instantly gives you a new goal in life. It’s a reason you want to get up in the morning and gives your life a new purpose. You’re less likely to waste your time, which helps you to beat boredom as well.
If you would like to know more about how you can make the most of your years in retirement, I’ve got something amazing for you. My ebook: Five Steps To Happiness In Retirement is the book to read for anyone that wants to find happiness and fulfillment and can use some guidance to find their passion, structure their day, and have the best time of their life in retirement.
What Can I Learn At 60 Years Old?
Now that we established that you CAN learn at 60 and that learning keeps your mind young and healthy and comes with other amazing benefits. You’re probably at the point that you might wonder, what can I learn at 60 years old? Well, to state the obvious, you can learn anything you want, no matter how old you are. But I’ve got some great ideas for you that I will share with you in a second. First, I want to share with you an amazing platform to learn new skills.
The best resource where you can learn different skills from the world’s best all from one place is Masterclass. With Masterclass, you can learn at your own pace, time, and device. Without having any experience, these Masterclasses are great for anyone who wants to learn something new or upgrade their skills and talents.
You can watch thousands of lessons from the best as they share their stories, skills, shortcuts, failures, and successes. From Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller to Samuel L. Jackson, Anna Wintour, Serena Williams, and so many more world’s greatest. There are 100+ different classes available on the platform, and new ones are added every month. When you want to learn anything, this is the best platform for it.
50 Skills To Learn At 60
1) A New Language – Babbel is the #1 Selling Language Learning App
2) To Play An Instrument
4) Writing – On Masterclass, you’ll have access to 20 different writing masterclasses from the world’s best writers
5) Home Repairs
6) Car Repairs
7) Gardening – On Masterclass, you can follow the Gardening Masterclass of Ron Finley
8) Interior Designing
9) Photography – Check out the Photography Masterclass of Annie Leibovitz.
10) How To Cook Like A Chef – With Masterclass, you have to more than 15 different cooking classes from renowned chefs like Aaron Frankin, Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Alice Waters, Massimo Bottura, etc.
12) Change A Flat Tire
14) Start A Fire
15) First Aid Basics
17) Start A Business – Also, Masterclass has amazing business classes from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
22) Surviving In The Wilderness – Check out the Masterclass of Jessie Krebs.
24) Accounting And Bookkeeping
26) Computer Skills
27) Editing Videos
28) Public Speaking
29) Graphic Design
30) Home Brewing
32) Song Writing – Check out Alicia Key’s Songwriting Class
36) Grow Your Own Vegetables
37) Card and Magic Tricks
38) Private Investigating
39) Writing Poems
41) Grilling – Check out Aaron Franklin’s Texas Style BBQ Class
43) Wood Working
44) Improve Spelling
46) Train A Pet – Check out Brandon McMillan Dog Training Class
48) Horse Riding
How Do Seniors Learn Best?
Younger brains use different parts of the brain while learning compared to older brains. And there are a couple of things you can do to improve your learning skills.
First of all, it’s good to know how you learn best according to your age. It gives you a better understanding of how the average people of 60 years and older learn, but you always need to be aware of your own learning style preferences.
Research about learning style preferences among older adults found out the following: “More of the 55 to 65 age group preferred the Accommodator learning style (learning by feeling and doing), more of the 66 to 74 age group preferred the Diverger style (learning by feeling and watching), whereas the 75 and older group preferred the Assimilator style (learning by thinking and watching). Therefore, it is suggested that not all older learners are active, hands-on learners as adult education literature suggests, but rather with age there is a tendency to become more reflective and observational in the learning environment.”
Tips To Improve Learning
- Excersing rerugrly nurtthers the growt of new brain cells. It also improves blood flow to the brain, reduces stress levels and potentially lower dementia risk according to this article of the Cleveland Clinic.
- Eating a brain- boosting diet can also improve learning and supports brain function for both short- and long-term periods according to an article in the Medical News Today. Your brain usus around 20 percent of the body’s calories so it neeas good nutrient to function properly.
- Sleeping strengthens your memory according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Therefore getting enough and quality sleep is vital for your brain to function at it’s best.
- Compassion goes a long way when it comes to learning. So cut yourself some slack when you’re trying to learn something new. Everyone has to start from scratch and you don’t learn better or faster when you’re frustrated or annoyed with yourself. bluv