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3 ways seniors can boost their skills

You might have a few years in the workforce under your belt now, but it’s not too late to make new friends, develop interests or pick up skills.

In fact, you now have the opportunity to learn that skill that you’ve always wanted to try but have never had the time to do while you were working. Who knows? It might be fly fishing, life drawing, yoga, photography, joining a choir or even volunteering at a local non-profit organisation.

One benefit of attending classes and workshops is that it also often involves meeting people and hopefully making new friends, too. As many people, particularly men, spend their working lives devoted to their jobs and family, when they hit retirement they often find their friendships have fallen by the wayside.

According to the Victorian Government’s Better Health website, “Humans are social animals who need contact and intimacy with others to feel good about life. This is even more important after retirement, when the social contact that comes with being in the workforce is gone.

“Factors such as low income, reduced physical mobility due to illness, or lack of access to transport can leave some people at home alone with nothing much to do. If this is the case, retirement may lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression.”

Here are a few ways that you can learn new skills, widen your friendship circles and get involved in the community.

Go digital

Lisa Du is the founder of ReadyTechGo, a technology education program in Victoria, which is aimed at seniors and covers topics from online shopping and e-readers to travel research and digital cameras.

“We have a lot of clients who live alone or are isolated, so being able to go online and see photos of their grandchildren at any time of the day is great for them,” Du says. “It really helps with their mental well-being as well.

“We have an 89-year-old client who loves Scrabble, so we taught her how to play Words with Friends on an iPad and now she’s got two friends in New York and London that she’s kept in contact with for four years.

“Without that technology, she would be bored at home, but now she’s sending loved ones messages and getting online to find information.”

Here are a few other online resources where you can learn digital skills:

Tech Savvy Seniors

Skillful Senior


Learn a language

Many retirees love to immerse themselves in travelling overseas, and what better way to prepare yourself than to learn a new language? In fact, even if you’re not going on a holiday, learning a new language has great benefits for your brain.

“Not only can the brain process information better, but it creates a clearer signal for learning, so a brain that knows two languages will more easily be able to learn a third, fourth, or even a fifth,” says  says Tony Barrett, general manager at Seek Learning.

“It can also allow people to more easily access newly learned words, leading to larger gains in vocabulary and possibly delaying the onset of dementia later in life. Even if you don’t learn a second language until after middle age, research shows it can still potentially help stave off dementia.”

According to Barrett, studies show that when you learn another language, your brain operates in an entirely different way, allowing you to work at a different speed, which can positively impact the way you lead your everyday life. When you’re processing words in different languages, the brain works harder and develops further.

While you can head to your local TAFE or language school to find out how to sign up, if you prefer, it’s also possible to sign up for an online course. Here are a few suggestions:

Open Culture

Duo Lingo


Get involved in the community

Research has found volunteering is not only a great way to help out the community, it also has health benefits for seniors and gives them a sense of purpose.

According to a study from the Rotman Research Institution, volunteering helps to reduce the symptoms of depression and improves overall health. Seniors who have chronic health conditions will benefit the most from lending a hand.

There is a wide range of interesting organisations where you can offer your services. Here are just a few to get you started:


Salvation Army

Starlight Foundation

Dress for Success