Wednesday, October 16, 2013



In my exploration of the brain being able to generate new cells for a lifetime of continued learning,  I came across an article in Scientific American about Neuroscience that discussed how new discoveries about brain function is rapidly changing the way aging is perceived. The bottom line is this:  Use It or Lose It!

Certainly there are things we can do every day to enhance our neuro functions.  However, there are 3 core things that we need to consider to help enhance brain function and they are:  1. providing a sense of purpose, 2. social interaction, and 3. stimulation of the brain. 

An excellent way to achieve all 3 things is to return to the work force or volunteer your time.  These activities are great because they provide a sense of purpose; they integrate interaction between people, and they force you to learn new things which keeps your brain more elastic. 

Deciding to re-enter the workforce can be perplexing.  Start networking right away.  Let everyone know you’re interested in looking for a position.  Be pro-active; register with your local temporary employment agencies.  (Do this even if you don’t know a lick about computers because once you’re registered with an agency, if they’re a really good agency, they will have free tutorials that will teach you everything you need to know to be brought up-to-date with software and make you competitive.)  Another thing you can do is intern.  Internships are a great way to learn a new trade and a new industry while being digitally brought up-to-date.

Volunteers are needed all the time in the non-profit sector and in schools, libraries, hospitals, and so forth.  If you want to be of service, start asking around and before you know it, you’ll be right in the thick-of-things.

Challenge yourself to make changes.  Get a new look.  Set an appointment for a ‘new you’ at the nearest make-up counter.  Make-overs are usually offered for a nominal price.  Get a new hair cut or color.  On a tight budget?  Hunt for deals on Groupon and in your local papers.  Be on the lookout for grand openings.  Check with beauty colleges and schools for great deals on haircuts, manicures and facials. 

Get into shape.  YMCA and YWCA offer different kinds of memberships at different prices pending age and income.  Check out your local Parks and Recreation department for classes.  If you’re shy about working out with others, check out and for on-line exercise videos you can do at home.  You can also keep track of your progress on-line by joining fitness and weight loss memberships such as NBC’s Biggest Loser, etc.

Be brave – join groups in your community and attend any “Meetup” which piques your curiosity.  Check out what’s going on in your area by visiting websites which belong to your councilman’s office, your city, bookstores, libraries, museums, colleges, universities, stores, Senior centers, Moose, Elks, and so on.  Review local papers, Craigslist, Patch, Groupon, LivingSocial, Eventful, etc. and listen to the radio. 

Poetry slams, dances, Tai Chi, tournaments, concerts, art shows, plays, readings, photography, drum circles, astronomy happenings and so forth are being offered all the time.  Play a little game of hide-and-go-seek to find out what events are being offered in your area.  (You’ll be surprised at how many events are free to attend.) 

Whether you have to pay or you can attend for free, if you’re the least bit interested in what’s going on -  attend!  Can’t find a friend to go with you?  Too bad!  Go anyway.  Do something different.  Learn something new.  You never know what that mini adventure will lead to!  (And just think of how many eyeballs are going to fly out of their sockets when friends and family ask you what you did last week.)

Erik H., Erikson’s The Life Cycle Completed.

Further Reading:

Best Jobs for 50 and Over: 

Volunteering for the Silver Generation:

Event/Social Resources:

Work Resources: