Brain Challenge

It’s never too late to learn something new!

When in comes to our brain, the notion of “use it or lose it” turns out to be true. The brain is “plastic” and can continue to grow, develop, and make connections well into old age. When you challenge your brain with new and effortful activity, you help to build your “cognitive reserve”. Invest in your brain by keeping it active!

  • You are never too old to learn something new. In fact, challenging your brain with mental exercise as you age is just as important as physical activity!
  • Like your muscles, your brain improves with use. Continuing to change and learn as you age can actually improve brain function over time and lower your risk of developing dementia.
  • Exercising your brain increases “cognitive reserve”, which is your brain’s resilience or ability to cope with stress and challenges.
  • It turns out that your brain grows, develops and makes new connections – also known as neuroplasticity – well into old age. Learning new things and challenging your brain boosts this brain development and lends itself to optimal ageing.

Where to start?

  • Read, write, do word or number puzzles: Choose something you like to do! Look for different levels of difficulty to suit you.
  • Visit your local public library: Reading is great for your mind in so many ways! Many libraries also have book and movie clubs, university lectures, a variety of workshops and home book delivery services. Find your local library here.
  • Learn how to use a computer: Using a computer, tablet or smart phone to access the internet is a great way to find interesting information and connect with others. Did you know that the average age of Facebook users in Nova Scotia is 55? If you are new to computers, there are many senior-friendly resources and technologies. You can also check out this video guide to getting started on Facebook.
  • Make the most of your hobbies and interests and group: Look for social opportunities to do the things you already love to do, and take it to a new level! Joining a cooking or photography group will help you learn new techniques and meet new people with common interests.
  • Change your routine: Are you a creature of habit? Take a different route home, shop at a different store, or meet up with a friend you have not seen for a while. By simply changing your routine or introducing new experiences, you activate new brain pathways and add mental exercise to your day.
  • Register for a course: Formal learning activities are beneficial for brain health. Nova Scotia has a great number of adult education opportunities. Some universities have Continuing Education Departments that offer non credit courses, seminars or lectures. The Seniors College of Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit organization that offers a wide range of academic courses for seniors in several communities throughout Nova Scotia. Libraries also offer lecture series.
  • Challenge your mind: in terms of brain health, the more challenge the better. More complex activities like learning a new language or how to play an instrument benefit your brain the most, but all activity counts!.

Set a goal!

To tap into your fountain of health for optimal aging, set a cognitive activity goal from the list above, or choose one of your own. Remember the more specific, measurable and realistic your goal is, the more likely you are to succeed!

For example, if your mental workout is to attend the Life Long Learning Program offered at the public library, make it more specific by choosing which particular lectures or courses, times and days of the week, and the number of weeks you will attend- mark it down in your calendar.

Once you set your cognitive activity goal, keep track of it by emailing your goal to yourself, or share it with others by email or facebook~ you might just help to inspire someone else!

Share your goal:

Still not sure what to do?

Share this page with someone else, and come up with some new ideas together on how to add cognitive activity into your life. You can also find helpful links available in our Resources page. This information is supported by research and scientific evidence. Please see our Evidence Base for more information.