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Why seniors should embrace lifelong learning

Considering diving back into learning after retirement? Explore tips to get started and the benefits of learning in later life for the elderly.

June 12, 2024

Elderly learning in a classroom

If you're reading this, you might be considering diving back into the world of learning. Lifelong learning can be incredibly rewarding, especially in later life when you have taken retirement. The ability to learn something new may even be simpler with more time dedicated to increasing your knowledge.

This article explores some tips for getting started, the mental benefits of keeping your mind active, and how to stay safe whilst keeping your mind active.

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What is lifelong learning

Lifelong learning for the elderly involves ongoing education, skill development, and personal growth after retirement. These learning activities can include formal education, online courses, workshops, hobbies, volunteering, travel, intergenerational activities, and reading. Lifelong learning strives to keep the elderly intellectually engaged and socially connected.

Why lifelong learning matters

Mental stimulation and neuroplasticity

Keeping your brain active is just as important as keeping your body moving. Learning new things helps maintain and even enhance neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to form new connections and pathways. This is crucial for memory, cognitive function, and overall brain health. Studies have shown that engaging in lifelong learning can help delay the onset of cognitive decline and dementia.

Social connections

Elderly man learning with youngsters

Learning isn't just about absorbing information; it’s also a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Online courses, local classes, and discussion groups provide wonderful opportunities to socialise and stay connected, which is essential for emotional well-being and preventing loneliness.

Personal fulfilment

Newly found time in retirement can give you the freedom to explore interests you might have put on hold. Whether it’s completing a degree or learning a new language, achieving these goals can bring a sense of accomplishment and joy. Personal growth never stops, and learning can provide a great sense of purpose and satisfaction.

The mental benefits of continued learning

Enhancing neuroplasticity

Continued learning stimulates your brain, encouraging it to form new neural connections. This process, known as neuroplasticity, is essential for maintaining cognitive health and flexibility. Engaging in complex and new activities helps keep your brain resilient and adaptable.

Preventing dementia

Research indicates that mental stimulation through learning can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia and other cognitive impairments. By challenging your brain with new information and skills, you’re keeping it strong and healthy.

Staying busy and engaged

Keeping yourself busy with learning can make retirement even more enjoyable. It provides structure to your day and keeps boredom at bay.

Healthier mind and body

Learning new skills and information can improve your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. It can also contribute to physical health by encouraging activities that get you moving, like dance classes or gardening workshops.

Enhanced quality of life

Lifelong learning can significantly enhance your quality of life. It keeps you connected to the world, fosters a sense of purpose, and continuously opens up new possibilities.

Top tips for embracing lifelong learning

Start with your interests

Older adults in a cookery class

    Think about what excites you. Is it art, history, science, or maybe technology? Choose a subject that sparks your curiosity and makes you eager to learn more. The great thing is, you can choose something more theoretical like, math or philosophy, if something more hands-on would be too physically challenging. Alternatively, if you’re an active person, something like cookery classes or gardening could be a great way to stay busy.

    Explore online courses

      If you’re tech savvy, there are so many online platforms offering courses tailored for seniors. Websites like The Open University, Coursera, and Udemy have a variety of topics, from beginner to advanced levels. Plus, many of these courses are free or low-cost.

      Join local groups

        Check out your local community centres or libraries. Many offer classes specifically designed for older adults, ranging from computer basics to creative writing and beyond. A great resource for in-person groups is University of the Third Age (u3a) which is a network of learning groups across the country. It’s a great way to learn and socialise simultaneously.

        Take advantage of free resources

          Websites like Khan Academy and OpenLearn provide free courses on virtually any topic. YouTube also has countless tutorials and lectures that you can watch at your own pace.

          The role of technology

          Easy-to-use devices

          Modern technology has made learning more accessible than ever. Tablets and smartphones are user-friendly and can connect you to a world of information. If you're new to these devices, consider taking a basic computer or tablet course to get comfortable. Your local library is often a great resource for computer literacy courses.

          Virtual classrooms

          Many online courses offer virtual classrooms where you can interact with instructors and fellow learners in real time. This setup not only enhances your learning experience but also provides a sense of community.

          E-books and audiobooks

          If reading is your passion, e-books and audiobooks are a great resource. They’re often available for free through local libraries and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

          Embrace learning safely with our support

          If you need extra reassurance and peace of mind when trying new activities on your learning journey, our personal alarm service is here to ensure that help is always available at the push of a button, whether you’re at home or out-and-about exploring new places.

          At TakingCare, we have various personal alarms with multiple features and functions so that you can choose the one most suited to your circumstances. 

          • personal fall alarm will automatically detect if you have a fall in the home or garden and raise an alert.
          • GPS personal alarm is convenient if they spend lots of time out and about - it works anywhere and can give the resolution team your GPS location if needed.
          • If you stay active and want to track your steps, you can choose the stylish personal alarm watch that acts as a 24/7 monitored alarm as well. 
          • A monitored personal alarm means there is always someone to contact, day or night if your loved one needs help or reassurance.

          Have a look at the full range of TakingCare personal alarms

          Independent living products brochure

          Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

          Download brochure

          Ways to support independent living

          Independent living products brochure

          Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

          Download brochure

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