Your Best Self

By Julia Price

January 12, 2018 4 min read

Learning is a lifelong gift that we are able to unwrap a little more every single day. The mind is like a muscle, and keeping it active can lead to increased longevity and happiness. To find opportunities to engage with others and keep your mind sharp, look no further than your home and your community.

Brain-training apps have the benefit of being accessible anywhere, anytime. All you need is a smartphone or tablet. Peak, Elevate and Lumosity, three of the most popular that are available for Android and iOS, are all worth a try. Peak offers a collection of 30 games that cover memory, mental agility, language and attention, a variety that could keep your daily sessions from becoming a chore. Elevate offers more than 30 games; additionally, it tracks your daily use in a calendar and increases difficulty as you improve. Lumosity's games are mixed and matched for each daily program, and the app tracks your speed, memory, problem-solving abilities and more over time to show improvement. These apps can be at your fingertips no matter where your errands or activities might take you, which might make it easier to form a daily habit and hold yourself accountable.

Learning a new language can be a fun, energizing way to improve cognitive and problem-solving ability. The Eton Institute, which offers language-learning services for all levels, says: "Learning a new language means your brain has to cope with complexity as it makes sense of and absorbs new patterns. As our brains work out meaning, endeavoring to communicate, we develop key learning skills." Challenging the mind to learn and recall new knowledge is a great brain workout. Sign up for a group language class at your local community college. Or if you prefer an individual endeavor, invest in a language software like Rosetta Stone or a language app like Duolingo so you can practice every day from the comfort of your own home. No matter which language you choose, you are sure to enjoy being able to communicate in new ways with people from other cultural backgrounds.

If you have a knack for electronics or want to become more tech-savvy, the Apple store often offers free classes on basic computer knowledge, music, movie and photo programs, and more. Class size tends to be small, and each class is taught by an Apple professional. You may benefit from the interactive nature of this learning environment and enjoy the social aspect of meeting new people. If friends or family members are eager to learn as well, you could gather together and make it a fun outing. However you make it happen, you will come away more comfortable and confident in your technological abilities.

Getting involved in senior activities in your local community can be a fun and enjoyable way to stay active. Check your local recreation center for a list of senior programs and classes, from jewelry making, to gardening, to cooking. Alternatively, the Meetup online social networking service allows you to organize or join a group of individuals who share your interests. Visit the website to get a look at what's happening with seniors near you. If you are lucky, your town may have a senior citizen performing arts center. Why not learn some new harmonies and perform to a crowd of your closest friends and family?

With so many options, it can be challenging to know what's best for you. Think back to the best teachers and classes you had in school. What inspired you? What subjects did you look forward to each day? What teaching style worked most effectively? This is an opportunity to play as much as it is to learn, so find an opportunity that gets you excited and let the smiling begin.

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