Seniors and Education – Knowledge is Power: The Benefits of Continuing Education
Three days ago, my niece returned to school, marking, formally, the end of her summer vacation. I’m not sure though how much vacation she really had. Her dad, my younger brother, had her enrolled in golf lessons, a month of camp and a host of other activities. It seemed she was continually busy learning new things or improving previously acquired skills. Learning is not just for the young. Turning 50, 65, or older does not mean you have nothing more to learn. Quite the opposite. Henry Ford may have said it best with the following:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
Last year I did a three-part series on ways for seniors to mentally and physically stay actively engaged. One way I shared was to take classes. For the next few weeks, I will be sharing the benefits of pursuing lifelong education.
- Community – Romeo Vitelli Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today, shares studies linking lifelong education to creating a sense of community, thereby fighting depression, and giving seniors a sense of purpose.
- Fights dementia – Barbara Worthington, founder, and owner of Caregiver Cards, writes in Aging Well how learning in any venue, be it in a formal classroom or traveling, can help slow the progress of dementia and overall cognitive decline.
- Knowledge is power – AARP’s Founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, was a strong proponent of education past retirement. It was this belief that in 1963 propelled her to establish AARP’s Institute for Lifelong Learning. Whether in a formal class setting or other venue, learning can help develop a multitude of new interests and skills.
“The eagerness to learn — to pioneer in the development of new skills and new abilities, to broaden the personal scopes of understanding, to freshen the mind with new ideas and new concepts, to achieve new heights of knowledge — has no age restrictions.” Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus
- Plenty of time – Now that you’ve retired, what can you do? One thing, suggests Dave Bernard, author, and blogger, is to engage in active learning. After all, you have the time.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the saying that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Just because someone is no longer working full time does not mean it is the end of any or all activity. For many, it’s just the beginning. Learning keeps us sharp, fights dementia, loneliness, and broadens our knowledge and increases skills. Gaining knowledge can take place in a number of ways. It can be done attending a lecture, touring a museum or taking a class either online or at a local college. If you are a senior, caregiver or adult child, I cannot over encourage you to actively pursue learning on some level.