We’re living longer and healthier lives. We live in the middle of a global learning world that requires us to pay attention, constantly update, retool, rethink, and relearn. We are touched by learning broadly throughout our daily lives – through informal interactions with other people, our own focused, self-directed efforts, and the formal experiences that we associate with traditional education. We may not remember everything we learned in a high school humanities class, and as Dr. Lisa Genova says in her book Remember, “our brains aren’t wired to remember everything.” What we do remember are the learning experiences.
According to The Virtual Brain Health Center, lifelong learning builds better brains when deliberately participating in new and challenging programs. It is as important as daily exercise and healthy eating. How does lifelong learning help our brain?
Exercises our brain. Engages key brain functions – attention, concentration, memory, problem-solving, etc.
Cultivates new neurons. The main component of neurogenesis is building new brain cells (neurons) with more robust connections.
Keeps us connected. Presents challenging opportunities and stimulating conversations to connect with others, peers, and topic experts.
Boosts brain health. Promotes mental, physical, emotional, and social benefits for our overall brain wellness.
Mental agility. Enhances our brain’s ability to adapt to change, known as neuroplasticity.
Encourages healthy brain aging. It keeps the brain active in adulthood and post-retirement.
Decreases our risk for decline. A vital lifestyle factor that can buffer cognitive performance.
Expands our horizon. It provides numerous ways to grow our minds, strengthen our brains, and broaden our social networks.
The adventure of a lifetime. A lifelong process that occurs through formal learning (virtual classes, in-person lectures) and informal learning (books, podcasts, hobbies).
Daily practice. Start a lifelong learning routine by discovering one new thing every day.
You have probably figured out that lifelong learning is a process. It is not a single activity that appears on the calendar once a month.
Lifelong learning programs recognize these elements and make sure they provide experiences and content that evolves with the learner. Participants in a lifelong learning program make themselves available for learning. They tend to approach life with an open, receptive mind, free from bias, and fully aware of omnipresent learning opportunities. What benefits of participation in a lifelong learning program do senior adults experience?
- Social validation; discussing past experiences lends validation to the experience
- Social inclusion; intentionally connecting with others cultivates relationships
- They learn to question and probe when their curiosity is sparked
- Take risks; offer an opinion different from that of the group
- Having patience and self-compassion empowers them to help others
Assisting senior adults to get on the path of lifelong learning ensures that they will be able to live life fully, well, and wisely, which is truly what lifelong learning is all about.
Learn more about curriculum options by visiting Phoenix-based ALLE Learning™ at www.alle-learning.com, emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling us at (602) 418-5196. Learn about our related program that supports community-based memory care, EngAGE EnCOURAGE ™, or our home-based program for persons living with dementia and their care partners, Engaging at Home™.