It’s never too late for you to pick up a new skill! Just look at 86-year-old Ed Moseley, a retiree who taught himself how to knit so he could make handmade caps for premature babies.
When his assisted living facility asked its residents to knit caps for premature babies, Moseley was on board right away. However, there was one snag: he had never knitted in his life.
And so, the former engineer reached out to his daughter for help.
“When they started this project a few months back, I told my daughter about it and I said, ‘How can I knit? What do I need to do?’ And bless her heart, she went to Jo-Anns [Fabrics] and got a kit, yarn and instruction kit for me. So I started slowly and learned it just takes patience,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
‘I started slowly and learned it just takes patience’
It initially took Moseley almost three hours to finish his first hat, Inside Edition reports. Now, he can finish a hat in an hour and a half, and usually knits as he watches TV.
He’s knitted over 50 preemie hats in different colours, and has inspired others to learn how to knit, including other residents and kids at his granddaughter’s school. Soon, people began dropping off knitted caps and balls of yarn to his room. On World Prematurity Day, he was able to donate 350 caps to Northside Hospital — 200 more than his initial goal.
Moseley, who is battling cancer, likes using his time to help others. Last year, he helped hundreds of women and children in need by filling shoeboxes with toiletries. After this latest project, he has discovered that he enjoys knitting, and still knits for family and friends today.
“I am taking orders right now,” he said. “As they long as they furnish the yarn, I don’t charge anything.”
Some people say that doing puzzles like sudoku or other brain games is the secret to keeping your brain healthy, but according to a 2014 study from the University of Texas, getting a new hobby is even more effective.
NPR reports that researchers randomly assigned 200 seniors to different activities. Some learned new skills like digital photography and quilting. Some were asked to watch movies or talk about past vacations. Others were asked to work quietly at home, playing games and listening to music.
After giving memory tests to the different groups, the researchers found that the people who learned a new skill had the most improvement in memory.
The more challenging the new skill is, the better. Researchers found that people who learned digital photography and Photoshop showed the greatest improvement in memory, as these were more difficult for the seniors to learn. (Some of them hadn’t ever touched a computer prior to the study!)
How does learning new skills help your brain?
Though brain games and puzzles do improve brain functions, learning new skills strengthens connections in the brain. “It really is strengthening the connectivity between these team players of these large-scale brain networks,” cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman explained to NPR.
By maintaining an active brain, you maintain your cognitive health and keep dementia at bay. And if you’re learning something like photography or knitting, it doesn’t hurt that you’re having fun as well.