Think about this: What would happen if older adults were offered an age-appropriate program that enables them to associate and celebrate their past lives while living in the present? We know that many older adults have led wonderful and full lives. Do we provide enough opportunities for them to reflect on these past experiences? Do we create experiences that honor their accomplishments and celebrate their funny stories? As we age, we move further and further away from modern day events. As hard as we try to make sense of what we see on TV or read in a newspaper it is often difficult to make a connection with our own lives. But, all humans have the need to value and celebrate their  past.

The term “Lifelong Learning” for older adults first emerged in the early 1990s. Since then, it has come to mean different things: Older adults who need retraining due to an obsolete vocation or those who have extra time and are curious about learning new things. For people facing feelings of isolation and loneliness, the concept of lifelong learning can have a positive impact on their daily lives that is far beyond a traditional industrial activity. Research has taught us that learning new things is vital for good brain health. Our brain doesn’t get better because we play brain games or do repetitive tasks – we need to open up our world and have new experiences.

Lifelong learning isn’t about remembering facts or figures; it is about having positive and respectful adult experiences. The “new” aspect of lifelong learning can be fun, simple, and repeatable.  Scheduling opportunities, such as a Fireside Chat, before or after dinner can open the door to those possibilities. Introduce small or large group discussions around past events and invite residents to bring photos or memorabilia to tell their stories. Replace “Current Events” with “Compare and Contrast” and invite the participants to select an event from the past and compare and contrast it to something happening today.  Each of these helps establish a purpose for the participants and a connection to today’s world.

Learn more about the curriculum options offered to senior community centers by visiting Phoenix-based ALLE Learning™ at, emailing us, or calling us at (800) 990-9806. Learn about our related companies that focus on community-based curriculums, EngAGE EnCOURAGE,™ or our home-based activities for caregivers to share with loved ones, Engaging at Home.