I remember when my grandmother or my aunts would have occasional memory lapses. When I was young, Mom called it senility. Today many refer to these lapses as “Senior Moments.” Add to that the fear that many have about developing Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
Have you ever wondered if there was anything you could do to help protect yourself against those senior moments and possibly Alzheimer’s and dementia?
According to Henry Ford (born in 1863 and died in 1947)
BUT IS THIS TRUE?
I’ve been on the lifelong learning bandwagon since I was completing my master’s program in leadership and curriculum development. I’d preach lifelong learning to my high school seniors who believed that once they graduated, they wouldn’t have to learn anything more – or read a book for that matter. (Or at least they considered me preaching.)
Should You Participate in Life-Long Learning?
Dr. Julian Lagoy (psychiatrist with Mindpath Health) explains that “education and lifelong learning help us use our brains to their maximum potential by stirring up our curiosity and intellect. The more you use your brain, the more oxygen it requires, and your body increases blood flow to it to fulfill the higher demand. This is what keeps it healthy and active.
“It’s similar to how cardio exercise every day helps benefit the health of your heart. It’s just like working out your other muscles. The more you keep the mind engaged the healthier you are for it, whereas if you don’t use it regularly, it is more likely to atrophy.” (Source link)
Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas wrote in an article, “It is important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging, something that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.” In other words, get outside your comfort zone. (Source link)
Staying active and continuing to learn new things is one of the best ways to fight against the struggles of old age.
Examples of activity and learning after 50
Laura Ingalls Wilder – published her first book at age 64 and wrote until her death
Grandma Moses – started painting at the age of 76
Grandma (Emma) Gatewood – first hiked the full Appalachian Trail at the age of 67
You are not too old to learn something new, to keep your physical body, and to keep your brain active.
WHY LEARN IF YOU ARE NOT IN SCHOOL?
Life-long learning. Learning in Retirement (LIR). No matter how you spin the words, learning throughout your life is important for many reasons.
#1 LIR allows you to adapt to the ever-changing world.
I am frustrated with the commercials for products (especially for electronic devices) that oversimplify their product for what they see as the older generation. It makes me feel like they don’t believe that seniors can learn and use the newest technology. In fact, learning allows us to stand up and say “I get it. I understand how to use (fill in the blank with whatever device you are speaking about).”
It also helps people over 50 communicate with those under 30.
#2 Continued learning allows us to have an open mind and develop a researched opinion.
We need to stop saying “in my day.” Yes, it was awesome to have the streetlight on the corner as our cue to get home, to be able to ride our bikes endlessly around the neighborhood or city, or even disappear at the local park for hours without someone at home worrying about us. The world, however, has changed. Learning, even by reading various news sources, and reading more than one to determine how biased or unbiased each source is, allows us to understand the world and what is going on.
#3 LIR allows you to meet more people and socialize more.
With the number of opportunities to attend in-person classes and workshops, you have a chance to get together with people who are interested in things that you are interested in. Plus, it gives you a new group of people to talk to and learn about.
#4 You can buckle down and learn new things for the joy of learning new things.
Unless you are looking to obtain a degree, or advanced degree, in some subject matter, there are no grades for workshops and courses. Even the “senior” spots in some university and college classes are ungraded. The idea of learning can become something to enjoy.
#5 Learning, without the feeling of being graded or evaluated, has been linked to lower blood pressure and a lower stress level.
#6 Learning inspires our curiosity.
How to Keep Learning Throughout Your Life
#1 Let’s start at home. With an ever-expanding library of online videos, workshops, classes, and other programs on the internet, there is no reason NOT to learn something new every day.
#2 Check out your local community college, four-year community college, or university.
Many educational institutions offer free or reduced-cost classes. They may offer special programs for seniors: book discussion groups, travel groups or presentations, or even music performance groups.
#3 Check out your local senior citizen center or county park and recreation facilities.
Many of these offer workshops, day trips, and activities.
#4 Check the activities and learning programs at your 55+ community or senior facility,
If you have decided to live in one of these types of communities, check out the learning programs they offer.
#5 Check out what programs your library offers.
#6 Check out Meetup groups on the Meetup app that explore new things that have always interested you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about lifelong learning and learning in retirement.
Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Until next time . . .
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