The Role of Lifelong Learning in Healthy Aging
Aging well is a topic that’s become increasingly popular as more baby boomers leave the workforce. Retirees or those close to retirement often seek new ways to protect their physical and mental well-being over the long term. That’s one reason so many people have become interested in the idea of lifelong learning.
Lifelong learning is the voluntary and continued effort to pursue knowledge. Continuing to tackle new learning challenges can offer the following health benefits to older adults:
- Improving and protecting cognition and episodic memory
- Lowering the risk for depression and isolation-related mental health issues
- Boosting confidence, self-esteem, and sense of purpose
- Nurturing the mind and spirit in meaningful ways
- Creating opportunities for community engagement
- Offering chances for building social networks
So, how do older adults go about exploring lifelong learning? We have some suggestions we hope you will find useful.
Ideas to Continue Challenging Your Brain
- Head Back to the Classroom: Retirement can be a time to take courses you think you’ll enjoy. Unlike in earlier years when you had strict degree requirements, this time around you’ll be learning for fun. Some examples include astronomy, fiction writing, historic preservation, or marine biology. All of these classes can be taken for no other reason than they sound interesting. This list from AARP can help you connect with a college or university that welcomes nontraditional students of all ages. You can also explore free college courses for seniors by state here.
- Travel Away from Home: A great way to learn more about the world is to travel more. Armchair Travel through Golden Carers allows you to visit faraway destinations from your living room. Destinations range from New Zealand to South Africa, Japan, and Croatia. Each country you visit virtually has its own activity kit that includes fact sheets, music, food suggestions, trivia, crafts, and more. There are membership fees required in order to join Golden Carers.
- Appreciate Music: Music has the ability to boost mood, feed the soul, or calm the spirit. By challenging yourself to play a musical instrument, you’ll stimulate the brain and spark learning. If you can’t find a used instrument close to home, sites like Music Go Round and Reverb can help you connect with a seller online. JoyTunes apps, such as Simply Piano or Simply Guitar, make it easier to learn how to play your new instrument.
- Learn a Foreign Language: Learning to speak a foreign language is an activity that can expand your mind for years to come. If you’ve always wanted to visit Italy, for example, a program like duolingo makes it easier to master the language. With both a web platform and an app, you can choose from 38 languages. Or you could take a French class so you can visit Giverny and take a painting class in Monet’s Garden. If you prefer an in-person class, check for classes at your local community college, senior center, or library.
- Master Gardening: Gardening is an activity well-known for its ability to nurture the body, mind, and spirit. People of all ages can benefit from digging in the dirt. But there can also be a learning component when planning your flower beds, vegetable patches, and containers. Some people prefer using an online platform or app to plot their gardens. Plan-a-Garden is a popular one, as is Garden Puzzle.
One final tip to explore is the idea of moving to an active, independent living community. In Presbyterian Senior Living communities, residents are free from the burdens of home ownership. This provides ample time to explore on-site lifelong learning programs that can range from watercolor workshops to woodworking, volunteer projects, raised bed gardening, and current event groups.
Have a Happy, Healthy Summer!
As we head into the heart of summer, it’s a good idea for older adults and family caregivers to learn more about potential safety issues common during warmer months. PSL’s Summer Survival Checklist makes that easier to do. Download it today with our compliments!
About Presbyterian Senior Living
Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 95 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.
- Connect with Presbyterian Senior Living