What Is Lifelong Learning and What Are Its Benefits for Older Adults?
Remember the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Rather than being based on actual research, it was a reflection of the belief seniors couldn’t or didn’t want to learn how to do new things. But scientists have discovered that even an aging brain will grow new connections and pathways when challenged and stimulated. Today, seniors everywhere are embracing the concept of lifelong learning and putting an end to that outdated saying once and for all.
What is lifelong learning?
Lifelong learning is defined as “the use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout your life in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for personal fulfillment.”
At a maintenance-free independent living community — like Longhorn Village — you’ll find the freedom to follow your interests. You’ll also discover anything is possible no matter your age. Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first “Little House” book until she was 65? Grandma Moses and Grandma Layton didn’t start their artistic careers until they were 78 and 68, respectively. And if you want to take up a new hobby, like skydiving, remember that the person who holds the world record for being the oldest person to make a tandem skydive, Al Blaschke, didn’t make his first leap until he was 100. He was over 103 when he achieved the Guinness Book of World Records accomplishment!
What are the benefits of lifelong learning?
Lifelong learning is not only a great way to expand your knowledge, but you could also see improvement in these vital areas:
- Socializing: One of the things many of us learned in 2020 is that loneliness can become a big health risk factor and negatively impact your overall wellness. By choosing to take a class or attend a lecture, you can combat loneliness through social engagement. It’s also a great way to surround yourself with people of all ages who share your interests and goals.
- Healthier brain: Learning something new, like a hobby or skill, can help boost your memory. Neuroscientists at the University of Texas at Dallas found that seniors who took on a new mentally challenging hobby — like learning to play an instrument or operate a computer — strengthened numerous networks within the brain.
- Healthier body: Researchers at Harvard and Princeton found the more educated a person, the lower their rates of anxiety and depression as well as the most common acute and chronic diseases — heart disease, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol, emphysema, diabetes, asthma and ulcers. And they were far less likely to report they were in overall poor health.
- More happiness: Being fully engaged in learning something new has been found to provide satisfaction and happiness. The one caveat is that to get these benefits, the tasks must really challenge you. The boost in your health and happiness comes from learning how to do a difficult task.
Lifelong learning opportunities.
- Specialized programs: With a name like Longhorn Village, it’s probably no surprise we have a lot of University of Texas Exes® at our community — including former students and faculty. We also have an exclusive relationship with the Ex-Students Association of The University of Texas, which gives residents access to continuing and extended education programs, social activities, fine arts events, library resources, campus facilities, and exclusive travel packages.
- Hobbies and interests: You can receive the same social, cognitive, health and happiness benefits by taking up a stimulating hobby like quilting, painting, digital photography, keeping up with the latest technology, and so much more.
- Like-minded friends: Living in a retirement community where people are actively pursuing their goals makes it easier for you to pursue your own … especially when you find you have some interests in common with your neighbors.
Learn more about the benefits of Longhorn Village.