Remember Dan Clark’s “Chicken Soup” story about 87-year-old Rose, who, when asked why she was in college, jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married and have a couple of kids.”
Well, experts tell us we’re never too old to dream a new dream or to learn something new. So for the first time in my life, I’m taking singing lessons. And in the process, I’m discovering that finding a new challenge can be absolutely exhilarating!
Experts tell us we’re all capable of learning new skills in later life. But we have to cultivate a burning desire to work toward a new dream. However, it’s never too late to pursue a new hobby, learn another language, take up golf, enroll in ballroom dance lessons or even pursue a new sport.
Whereas I am learning to sing, I have a close friend who is learning to swim. So many opportunities await our discovery that the list is endless. According to Gail Mahaney, who returned to college to pursue her degree at age 71, one way of challenging ourselves is by taking lifelong learning classes.
In fact, she nicknamed herself, “Grandma Co-ed” for her grandchildren. And Bill Roozeboom, counselor, has written and talked about brain plasticity to concerned seniors.
According to Roozeboom, brain plasticity refers to brain malleability, meaning that the brain is pliable and has the ability to form new neural connections all through life regardless of age.
But in order for reconnection to take place, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity. So what kinds of activities are capable of firing up new neural connections in later life?
For starters, Roozeboom recommends mastering a new skill such as pickleball, racquetball, crocheting, learning to play a new musical instrument, mastering a new language, etc. Roozeboom also believes that learning lines for a play — in fact, any type of memorization — is especially good for us. (I find it fun to occasionally practice math calculations in my head by adding up grocery receipts after I’ve come home from shopping.)
Have you ever felt that the more you learn, the more you want to know? I’ve met people whose higher education did not begin until they were in their 60s. And before they knew it, they had developed such an exciting thirst for knowledge that they kept right on going from one course to the next.
So just in case you’ve ever wanted to take piano, cello or dance lessons, it’s never too late to get started. And by the way, we’re never too old to make new friends along the way or pass up the chance to have some fun! As Lumiere from “Beauty and the Beast” said, “You don’t have time to be timid. You must be bold and daring.”