While having lunch at my favorite deli, I overheard a woman in line tell her elderly father that she was finally taking those piano lessons she’d always wanted. His reply surprised me. “That’s great. I wish I could learn something new.” I was tempted to interrupt to say, “You can, and you do.”
The fact of the matter is learning doesn’t stop when our formal education ends or when we reach a certain age. We all learn something new every day without even realizing it. Did you do a crossword puzzle today? Watch a documentary? Try cooking a new recipe? Travel somewhere new and different?
Many people only associate lifelong learning with the formal classroom. That’s one form of continued learning, but there are countless learning opportunities to engage in online now such as through virtual cultural programs or even TED talks. Whether it be something simple such as playing trivia or something more challenging such as learning a new language, the physical and intellectual wellness benefits of lifelong learning for seniors are inarguable.
What Is Lifelong Learning?
Lifelong learning has been defined as the “continuing pursuit of knowledge to build skills, explore new ideas, enhance understanding and enrich life.” We all have goals and interests. Lifelong learning gives us the opportunity to pursue and enjoy them, as well as discover new passions.
So why is lifelong learning important? Because it keeps us connected to the world. It opens the door to personal and spiritual growth. It keeps us challenged and engaged while experiencing the fun and fulfillment of learning something new. And there are good reasons to do so.
The Health Benefits of Lifelong Learning
The benefits of lifelong learning in your retirement years can bring meaning, purpose and a higher quality of life.
Good for the Mind
Studies show that a stimulated mind fosters a healthy brain. Taking on mentally challenging activities, such as learning new technology or how to play an instrument, learning to quilt, reading or even doing puzzles, can help retain mental alertness, boost memory, and slow the rate of age-related cognitive decline.
That’s one of the great things about a senior living community like McLean. There are so many ways throughout the campus to enhance intellectual wellness by keeping your mind active and sharp — educational seminars and speakers, painting and ceramics programs, book clubs, music appreciations, cooking demonstrations, brain fitness training in the media and technology center — the list goes on and on. Now that’s something to think about!
Great for the Body
Learning a new activity, even a new sport, can do wonders for your physical wellness. Staying active can improve heart health; lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; reduce pain and more. And different programs offer wide-ranging opportunities to embed active endeavors into daily living.
Retirement communities such as McLean offer plenty of opportunities to try new activities and have fun while doing them. Fitness programs that range from yoga and weight training to aquatic classes and meditation. Golf, swimming and tennis next door at Hop Meadow Country Club. Ever try a challenging game of Mölkky ? You can at McLean, and there are plenty of healthy, fresh dining options to savor, too!
Enriches the Soul
The benefits of lifelong learning for seniors in a social setting are many — and are vital to healthy aging. Surrounding yourself with like-minded peers helps build strong connections and lasting friendships. It also helps fend off loneliness and isolation, especially for those seniors who choose to remain in their own homes.
Lifelong learning can make a meaningful difference in your overall emotional health and well-being. Ask those who live at McLean, where just by opening the front door opens your world to lasting friendships. They love getting together for nightly dinners, group outings, shopping, theater, concerts and community events, cocktail parties, or hiking at the McLean Game Refuge. Plus, all residents receive a social membership to Hop Meadow Country Club.
Brightens the Spirit
Becoming skilled at something new and gaining knowledge in a subject matter that’s important to you can do wonders for your confidence, motivation and self-esteem. It’s a source of empowerment, which leads to growth and purpose. It’s another reason why lifelong learning is important.
But lifelong learning isn’t just inward-facing. It’s outward-facing too. Sharing your time to help others through intergenerational experiences and volunteering for a cause you believe in gives others a chance to learn from your life experience and knowledge. And what you learn together along the way can truly make the world a better place.
We’re All Lifelong Learners
What have you always wanted to learn? At McLean, we’re dedicated to helping people like you grow through boundless ways to enrich your mind, body and soul, and then putting into practice what you’ve learned. Get started by visiting our Wellness page to learn more or fill out or contact form to get in touch with us. With nothing holding you back and plenty of options, you can continue to learn something new for the rest of your life.