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Sharpen up your tools, sharpen up your mind!
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How can woodworking help you as you grow older? Well, we know that as we age, our minds change. For most people, the ability to process information gradually slows down. You hear a lot about how important it is for older people to engage in brain-healthy activities like crossword puzzles, reading, and playing games.

Interestingly, more and more people are coming to realize the mental benefits of woodworking as a pasttime. A hobby like woodworking, that stimulates the mind through complex measurements, visualization and creative problem solving, can have significant positive effects on the aging brain.

According to Doctor Paul Gilbert, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, woodworking, in particular, challenges the mind in a number of helpful ways. ''Problem solving and planning, visual and spatial functioning, rotating an object in your mind to figure out how parts might fit together; all those cognitive functions are involved in woodworking and could be beneficial to the brain.'' The link to the original article is no longer available.

I recently read a great article about a group of senior citizens in Pittsburgh who came together, reinvigorated, because of a woodworking project to provide furniture for Katrina victims. "Building hope: Construction 'fever' invigorates church group" tells the story of 80-year-old Richard Bischoff, a man who had retired quietly — and had actually moved an easy chair into his former woodshop for naps! When he was asked to help make tables and chairs for those in need, however, he dusted off his tools and stepped up to the plate. Bischoff not only built some of the furniture, he also mentored other seniors who wanted to help — some of whom had had no woodworking experience. In just a couple months' time the group turned out eight dining sets to send to New Orleans. Excitement and purpose, mental agility and extended cognitive ability: there's so much that woodworking can add to an older person's life. If you know an older person who could benefit from woodworking, see what you can do to get them involved, or reinvolved, in this wonderful hobby!

posted on May 14, 2009 by Kim Adams
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