Studies show lifelong learning promotes brain health, and most older adults embrace the idea of keeping their mind active and staying informed about the world around them.
But “lifelong learning” often conjures an image of seniors sitting in front of a screen or passively watching someone giving a lecture. This isn’t good for younger learners, research shows, let alone for older people whose brains need to stay engaged.
A study cited in Science magazine, for example, found that although lectures have been the predominant style of teaching since universities came into existence in Western Europe more than 900 years ago, watching someone simply recite material is not the optimum way to learn. The study, according to the magazine, “concluded that teaching approaches that turned students into active participants rather than passive listeners reduced failure rates and boosted scores on exams by almost one-half a standard deviation." This means their grades improved from, say, a C-plus to a B-minus.
So when we talk about lifelong learning at ALLE Learning, we refer to classes that involve participants, not just someone standing at the front of the room and droning on and on to them. Learning doesn’t need to be a rigorous academic exercise, according to an article in the Harvard Health blog. But it can’t just be puzzles and crosswords, which “do not expand other brain functions like reasoning and problem solving,” according to the blog. It has to challenge our brain with new information and more complex concepts.
These kinds of interaction and engagement boost self-worth because a person feels valued and connected when their ideas and input are encouraged. Classes also offer the benefit of time with others, which keeps social skills sharp through conversation, participation, and discussion. Socializing also helps prevent isolation, which can lead to both physical and mental declines.
At too many senior centers, care facilities, and other places with programming for older adults and those with cognitive decline, the primary focus is on keeping people busy with puzzles, crafts, mindless entertainment, or ongoing “happy hours.” This is detrimental in so many ways. ALLE Learning offers thoughtful, immersive, and affordable classes that require people to provide input — questions, opinions, and life experiences. This is more meaningful to them, raises their confidence, and improves their quality of life in general.
Learn more about the curriculum options offered to senior community centers by visiting Phoenix-based ALLE Learning™ at www.alle-learning.com, emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling us at (800) 990-9806. Learn about our related companies that focus on community-based memory care, EngAGE EnCOURAGE,™ or our home-based classes for caregivers, Engaging at Home.