Learn New Skills to Keep Your Memory Sharp

estate planning fairfax vaMary, who is 65, listens to classical music every day and does Sudoku and crossword puzzles. She is familiar with these things and hopes they will help to keep her mind sharp as she gets older. While these activities are certainly enjoyable for Mary, a new study found that continuous and prolonged mental challenge rather than doing activities within your comfort zone, is needed to keep the mind sharp.

A recent study at Texas University in Dallas involved 221 people ages 60 to 90, who were split into groups to learn new skills, such as digital photography, quilting or both for 15 hours a week over three months. Others listened to classical music and completed crossword puzzles or were put into groups that did social activities. The three learning groups were pushed very hard to keep learning more and mastering more tasks and skills. At the end of the three months, the researchers compared how different social and learning environments affected the mind. The findings showed that the participants built relationships and learned new skills, and only the groups that were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge improved.

According to Dr. Denise Park, who led the study, “When you’re inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone. We need, as a society, to learn how to maintain a healthy mind just like we know how to maintain vascular health with diet and exercise. We know so little right now.”

The study, published in Psychological Science, suggests that, in general, older adults need to choose new and challenging activities to help their long-term memories as they age. The researchers plan to follow up with the participants after one year and five years to see if the effects remain.

At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. (, we were intrigued by this new research, and hope it will encourage you to challenge yourself to keep your mind sharp. Our firm is dedicated to helping protect seniors and individuals with special needs by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for a consultation.

P.S. For the rest of October at our Fredericksburg Elder Law location, we are offering a Grand Opening special of 25% off all elder law and estate planning for new clients of our Fredericksburg Elder Law office (not to be combined with any other offer). Call us in the Fredericksburg area at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for a complimentary consultation or click here to attend one of our upcoming seminars.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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