The Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Seniors

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Learning is something we do throughout our entire lives. We don’t simply stop learning once we’re finished school – we learn new things every day. The learning we do in adulthood isn’t always done in a classroom, but it still counts! Think about all the new things you learn in a day, whether it’s at work, learning a new skill in the kitchen, or reading about something online. Learning is an essential part of life and is something we should all seek to continue as we get older.

Learning new things becomes especially important in the senior years. It’s a great way to keep the mind and body active and can play a big part in keeping seniors happy and healthy. Whether it’s in a more formal classroom setting or just learning something new from a friend, it’s good to encourage your loved one to seek knowledge. Let’s take a look at why learning is so important as we age.

It keeps you healthier and more active

It’s important to keep the brain active as we get older. Learning new skills or about new subjects is a great way to keep the mind sharp. Continued learning can improve memory by maintaining brain cells and making sure those cells properly communicate with each other. Think of your mind as a muscle; it needs to be exercised regularly to keep it strong.

It gives you an emotional boost

Learning something new is a great way to boost self-esteem. When you learn a new skill, you feel stronger, more confident, and proud of yourself. New skills can give you a stronger sense of independence, which will keep you happy and healthy.

One study suggests that the belief that you are smart and have a strong mind can help prevent memory loss. In the study, older people did worse on memory-related tasks after being exposed to negative stereotypes about seniors and forgetfulness. They performed better on those same tasks when they were told that it’s possible to preserve your memory well into your later years.

It’s a great way to meet new people

When you decide to attend a class or lecture, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who share some common interests with you. For example, if you decide to take a class on how to speak a new language, you know that everyone else there is interested in learning the same thing as you. It’s a built-in ice breaker – chat with everyone about why they’re excited to learn this new skill.

It gives you an opportunity to make new friends outside of the classroom too. Organize a study group to keep in touch with your fellow students, or simply get together to talk about what you’ve learned. You’ll likely open the door to some amazing new friends who will keep you busy and entertained.

You’ve finally got the time

Ask any adult around you if they’ve got something they’ve always wanted to learn about. Most people have a list of things they would like to learn, but they simply don’t have the time to do it. When you’re busy at work or at home with kids, it can be hard to make the time to take a class or even just set aside some time at home to learn.

However, once you retire, you have the gift of free time! It’s the perfect opportunity to take that course you’ve always wanted to take or pick up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try out. The satisfaction of finally mastering that skill or digging into a subject you’ve always been curious about will give you a huge boost of self-confidence and you’ll feel great about making good use of your free time.

Where to start

Local seniors centres and community centres offer classes are a great place to start if you want to learn a new skill. They usually have a wide variety of classes to choose from, covering everything from arts and languages to fitness and cooking. Many local universities also offer special learning tracks designed for seniors, with one day courses, lectures, and even courses for university credits.

At Bria Communities, we encourage our residents to embrace lifelong learning. We offer a variety of activities and classes (many of which are run by the residents themselves) to give everyone the opportunity to learn something new.

At the Waterford, resident Carl Haines teaches a Learn to Play bridge class every couple of weeks, giving residents a chance to pick up a new skill or get a refresher course. Waterford residents also participate in monthly TED talks at the local library.

At Sunridge Gardens when residents travel to exotic locations they’re encouraged to give a presentation and share their experiences with other residents. At the Wexford, resident Irene and her daughter have been teaching other residents to play Mah Jong, which is challenging and totally new for many people.