6 Benefits of learning a new skill in retirement

In America, the average retirement age is 62 years old. However, after they’ve had some time to sleep in and relax, many retirees pick up a new hobby, learn a new skill, or even return to work to alleviate their boredom. And let’s face it, 62 is the new 42, and there are many more years left for you to enjoy. But there are more reasons than just alleviating boredom as to why you should learn a new skill in retirement.

Learning a new skill in retirement can be very beneficial. In fact, a director of geriatric outpatient services at McLean Hospital, Dr. Ipsit Vahia, recommends older adults learn a new skill in retirement. As long as you’re feeding your brain with new knowledge and activities, Dr. Vahia says you can work wonders for your mind, and potentially, the rest of your body too.

Slow age-related cognitive decline

Memory loss can be scary, and dementia is one of the most common causes of cognitive decline in seniors. Numerous studies have proven that brain-training and the process of learning a new skill can improve people’s memory retention and overall brain function. Brain training can include completing puzzles, such as jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku. 

However, learning a complex skill has been proven to be more effective in memory retention than basic brain-training puzzles. A study that was published in Psychological Science had a group of adults ages 60 – 90 participate in learning a complex skill, such as quilting, or practicing basic brain-training. The group that learned a new complex skill had a higher improvement rate in memory retention than the latter group. 

Fight off depression

Some retirees, especially those who have been retired for many years and live alone, develop depression. Depression is a common condition among seniors and can be debilitating. However, if you are willing, you can fight off and even prevent depression. 

Learning a new skill can be done in a group setting, either in your house or at another location. You can join a group at your local community center or find local businesses that host classes and teach others new skills. You can also host a group class at your house. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people could be just what the doctor ordered.

Bond with your grandkids

A great way to spend retirement is with family and friends. Now that you’ve retired, you can make up for any time you might have lost with your grandkids. If you learn a new skill in retirement, you can then take that skill, teach it to your grandchildren, and have a new way of bonding with them. Even better, learn the skill with your grandkids. 

Improve physical function

Aging brings its own set of physical declines as well. Balance, strength, and hand-eye coordination are all examples of things that can decline with age. Depending on the skill, you may be able to improve your physical function. 

For example, taking up yoga, jogging, or even ballet could help you improve your balance and strength. Typing and other computer skills can improve your hand-eye coordination. 

Gain a source of income

There are a few reasons why retirees return to work. Some seniors return to work because they aren’t ready to live on a limited income. Well, instead of returning to your 9-5 job, learn a new skill that you can forge into a new source of income. 

Almost any skill can be exchanged for profit. Whether you’re selling an item, performing a service, or teaching the skill, you can make so extra cash for your retirement fund. For example, if you learn how to sew or knit, open an Etsy store to sell your hand-made products. Perhaps your new skill will be magic, have people hire you to be a magician at their kids’ birthday parties. Really, you can make a profit off of almost any skill.

Find your passion

Some people travel through life, day after day, at the same job they’ve had for years. If your job was one you were proud of and enjoyed, that’s fantastic, but some people weren’t as fortunate to find a job they were passionate about. If that sounds like you, then this is your chance to find what you are passionate about. Find a skill that you’ve always wished you could do and perfect it.

Whether you are learning a new language, taking painting classes, or learning how to play an instrument, have fun with it. Whatever the skill may be, make sure it’s a skill you’ll continue to enjoy throughout your retirement.