Stop the presses – we’ve got some breaking news for you. It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Actually, learning new tricks is important for everyone, no matter how old or young they are.
“Lifelong learning is an amazing tool for helping older adults find fulfillment and purpose,” says Rachel Henderson, Director of Community Relations at The Terraces at Bonita Springs. “It helps to keep us interested and excited in the world around us, which in turn improves our overall health and helps us age well.”
Rachel says that older adults have a unique tool that will help them learn new things: time. “Once we retire, our time is ours to do with as we wish, and that’s even more true when you move into a maintenance-free community like The Terraces at Bonita Springs,” she says. “You’re finally able to try and learn new things because you’re no longer worrying about what you have to do, only what you want to do.”
Keeping a strong mind/body/spirit connection is incredibly important for seniors, and lifelong learning is a great way to strengthen that connection. The good thing is that most seniors (if not all) want to continue to remain engaged during their retirement years. Many find new pursuits and become active in charity organizations, arts and culture and even business matters. It turns out that the desire to grow, stay informed and have fun doesn’t go away just because we’ve “grown up.”
Studies have shown that keeping the brain stimulated through fully engaging activities helps older adults retain cognitive function and retain it as they age. There is even research proving that brains that get used regularly achieve high levels of neuroplasticity – the phenomenon of forming new connections between neurons and even generating new cells.
Why Lifelong Learning Benefits Seniors
It improves cognitive function.
Research shows that continuing to learn throughout your life provides many health benefits, especially for aging brains. Activities that continually work your little grey cells, like learning to play an instrument or studying a new language, help to offset mental decline and can improve memory in older adults. Keeping your brain engaged may also help prevent the onset of diseases like dementia.
It makes you a happier person.
Ever notice that boost of joy you get when you accomplish something you’re proud of? Lifelong learning provides opportunities for those successes, whether it’s learning a new stitch in knitting, finishing a portrait or learning how to photograph nature. It gives you something to look forward to, and keeps you creative and curious. This sense of fulfillment helps ease stress, boosts serotonin levels and makes you a much happier and more satisfied person.
It helps you feel in control.
While we don’t necessarily think about “being in control” as something we crave, having a sense of self and control is incredibly important as we get older. After all, our abilities can start to decrease, and we may not feel like we’re in control of other aspects in our lives. Learning new things and actively seeking out opportunities, however, provides you with control to shape your life’s course.
Finding Fulfillment and Purpose
Learning for personal development.
Learning for the sake of learning can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Most of the opportunities for lifelong learning in retirement fall into this category, mainly because many people want to try things they’ve always wanted to do but never had time to pursue. Here are a few examples of lifelong learning for personal development:
- Learning a new hobby or pastime, like knitting, cooking or playing an instrument
- Researching family history or a medical condition to broaden your knowledge of yourself and your ancestors
- Discovering more about a culture or destination so you can plan an extended trip there
- Taking college courses, and perhaps even getting a degree, simply because you enjoy academia and the challenges of studying
Learning for professional development.
Did you know that approximately one-third of retirees end up going back into the workforce in some capacity? And it’s not just for financial reasons, either. Many people find personal fulfillment in having a career or going to work in some form. The nice thing about retirement is that you can pick and choose what and how you want to work. For example you might want to:
- Transform something you love into a paying gig, such as woodworking or another lifelong hobby
- Learn a new skill or trade that’s always interested you
- Go back to work in your previous field as a consultant (or for full-time, if you’d like)
Learning to help others.
Finally, lifelong learning can parlay into volunteer and charitable opportunities, too. For example, you may choose to volunteer at an animal shelter and learn how to train dogs. You could become a mentor to school kids, or use your skills and interests to help prepare taxes, teach classes or anything else you’d like to do. The only thing that’s limiting you is your imagination.
About The Terraces at Bonita Springs
Recreation, special events, holiday celebrations, educational programs, guest speakers, and a variety of inspiring activities take place throughout the year at The Terraces at Bonita Springs as part of the community’s active lifestyle programs. The Terraces is the only Life Plan Community for senior living in the Bonita Springs area. Living choices include independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. All levels of care, including assisted living, skilled nursing and memory support, are open for direct admittance with no entrance fee.
For more information, visit TheTerracesAtBonitaSprings.com or call 239-221-8907.