Benefits of Lifelong Learning in Your Senior Community

the importance of lifelong learning

Today’s independent living and assisted living communities offer an abundance of activities for seniors to stay sharp, active and social. Through partnerships with local colleges or universities, or through independent programs, senior communities often provide opportunities for residents to engage in lifelong learning.

Many people go back to school later in life to change jobs or advance their career. But if you’re retired, there are still numerous benefits to taking adult education classes.

Learn new skills – From computers to cooking, adult ed classes will teach you new skills that will keep you active and engaged, and keep your mind sharp. Studies show that learning new skills and trying new activities helps maintain brain cells and stimulates communication among the cells. The mind is a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Courses that offer hands-on learning opportunities may be best of all. One study showed that the more senses we involve in our learning, the more likely we are to remember facts and skills.

Connect with like-minded residents in your senior community. – Even in a friendly adult community, meeting new friends can still be challenging. When you take a class in something you’re interested in, you’ll meet others who share that interest. After you get acquainted, you can organize a study group or simply meet for lunch once a week. Before you know it, class will be over, but you’ll have a whole new set of friends for life.

Raise your self-esteem. – Learning a new skill makes you feel confident, strong and better about yourself. Additionally, just believing you’re smart may, in fact, help stave off memory loss. One study showed that older people did worse on memory-related tasks after being exposed to negative stereotypes about seniors and forgetfulness, and performed better when they were told that it’s possible to preserve your memory well into your later years. Doing well in a classroom setting is a great reminder that your brain is still strong.

Reduce pain and feel better – Along with greater self-esteem comes enhanced feelings of health and wellness when you make lifelong learning part of your active senior lifestyle. In one study, seniors who learned to play a musical instrument experienced less pain and better overall health. Any activity that engages your mind, putting you into that special “zone,” where time goes quickly and you are living completely in the moment, will distract you from everyday aches and pains caused by arthritis and other side effects of aging.

Reunite with an old love – It’s unlikely that you’ll run into your high school sweetheart next to you in an adult ed. photography course. We mean that you’ll re-connect with an activity you used to love. And, doing the things you loved when you were young just might make you feel young all over again… only with the wisdom and experience to appreciate it even more this time around.

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