Sometimes, you don’t have to look too far or hard for inspiration. This year, on our 74th Republic Day parade, the Kerala state tableaux sported a figure of Karthyayani Amma. A winner of Nari Shakti Puraskar, she is the state’s literacy icon, having cleared her Xth examinations at 96! Due to financial constraints, she had to give up on her schooling, but not her will to learn. Her tremendous zeal to learn made her a beacon of literacy for the state’s 100% literacy drive.
The simple lesson we can take home from Karthyayani Amma’s story is that people can learn new skills and gain knowledge at any age. Here is another startling fact. Research suggests that older people learn certain skills rather well and fast. The brain, indeed, evolves with age. While there could be some things we find tough to grasp, we use more parts of our brain and can easily pick a few new skills!
Why so? Let’s delve a bit into the science behind it.
Understanding the brain science
Believe it or not, hormones have a role to play! It seems we have lower testosterone levels as we age, making us better at controlling our impulses, with lesser mood swings. This aspect helps us think better and improves our decision-making capabilities.
Here are some other things we get better at:
Vocabulary: The more we live, the more voluminous our vocabulary becomes! If we interact with more people, then there is no end to this. An extensive vocabulary also means that we can communicate better.
Handling negative emotions: A part of the brain called the amygdala is responsible for memory and negative emotions. This region becomes less responsive as we age. Therefore, scientifically, there is reason to believe that you will not dwell much on such instances or respond to them.
Math skills: Over age, math skills improve due to practice.
Whether learning new languages or playing a musical instrument, seniors have an advantage over their young counterparts! Let’s see what works in their favour.
What advantages do seniors carry?
Irrespective of age, learning happens fast when there is an underlying interest or drive. Often, seniors learn because they want to! They want to remain independent, experience life more, stay healthy, connect with people, contribute to society, etc. This burning need is the biggest advantage seniors have in their learning quest.
The vast experience they have gained in their lives gives them the confidence to move ahead without fear. By now, they might have already tried and tested a lot of things, and fear of failure or ridicule does not dog them as much as it does the younger lot. Hence, the confidence helps them learn better and faster.
Last but not least, seniors have the necessary time to devote to learning what they want. Compared to the younger lot who are still completing their education or working hard, it is easier for seniors to make time to pick up something new, and they can also find like-minded groups.
And what’s more, these days learning is at your fingertips! Whether YouTube videos or online courses, learning new things is easy. You can also check out Samarth’s YouTube channel with content curated specially for seniors. You may find that all you need is to ‘Just do it’ like the tagline of the Nike Ad! Indeed, make up your mind, find the time, find your calling and get going. Unless you give it a go, you will never know. And for all you know, you might start a revolution and become a trendsetter.