It might sound like a cliché but it really is true. It is never too late to learn a new skill. Many of us are so busy with our jobs and our families that we seldom get round to doing something just for ourselves. However, many women find themselves with a little more free time as they get older. Perhaps this is because their children have left home or are at least much more independent. Perhaps they are able to cut down their working hours or retire altogether. It is then that taking up a new skill or hobby can really pay dividends. There is so much to be gained from learning something new.

For a start, learning keeps your mind sharp and improves your memory. Numerous studies have shown that it is one of the best defenses against age-related dementia. But there are other benefits too.

Acquiring a new skill will improve your confidence. You’ll get that feeling of satisfaction as you learn to master something different. The resulting boost to your self esteem is not something you can get any other way. You certainly can’t buy it. What is more, you may discover a new social life. Depending on what your new skill is, you could find yourself meeting like minded people who share your interest. Even if you don’t choose to learn something that takes you out of the house, you will be able to share your new pastime with your friends and your family. Not only will you have a new interest, you will feel more interesting with new insights and different topics to discuss.

So what new hobby should you take up? Learning to dance, to speak another language, to play golf, to crochet, weave or knit, to sing are all popular choices. All will bring many benefits but it is learning another language that seems to offer the most. Research shows that learning to speak new languages staves off dementia for an average of four years. Your memory will improve too. The memory is often compared to a muscle which grows stronger with exercise. Exercising your memory by learning new vocabulary and grammar rules has been shown to strengthen your overall memory, improving your ability to remember lists, directions, names and facts.

French, Spanish and Italian are thought to be some of the easier languages for English speakers to learn. And once you’ve mastered the basics, what better justification could there be for a wonderful European holiday than the need to practice your newly acquired language skills? Bon voyage!

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