How Lifelong Learning Can Improve Senior Health

Senior woman painting

When it comes to senior health, today’s experts consider much more than physical wellness to determine a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. Although physical health is certainly a top priority among seniors and those dedicated to serving them, research shows that mental and intellectual health plays a big role in seniors’ optimal well-being.

“Intellectual or cognitive health is a major piece of the puzzle for senior wellness,” says Heather Battey, Executive Director at amavida, a senior living community in Fort Myers, Florida. “Not only does mental health influence one’s self-esteem and sense of fulfillment, but studies show that brain health also affects one’s physical well-being. For seniors looking to keep the brain sharp, lifelong learning is a wonderful solution. It’s an integral part of the active senior living lifestyle we create at amavida.”

Lifelong learning is a strategy anyone can use to keep their mind stimulated and add excitement to their life. For seniors especially, learning something new can offer a multitude of benefits for a healthy, active lifestyle.

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

According to the experts from the Association for Psychological Science, learning is one of the best ways to promote intellectual wellness and cognitive health – as long as the areas of interest are challenging enough to ensure mental stimulation.

Consider a study by the University of Texas that compared three groups of seniors. One group was tasked with learning a new skill, such as woodworking or quilting or studying an unfamiliar topic. Another group was tasked with doing simple activities, such as puzzles and crosswords or listening to music. The third group joined some kind of social group.

The study found that seniors who were busy learning a new skill showed improvements in their memory, compared to those who socialized or did familiar, non-stimulating tasks. The difference can be traced to the learning tasks that required seniors to activate their working and long-term memory, be actively engaged and complete high-level cognitive processes over a long period of time.

While socializing or enjoying favorite activities or pastimes are certainly part of a fulfilling lifestyle, they don’t offer seniors the same cognitive health benefits as learning. It’s not enough to be busy – cognitive wellness requires a level of mental stimulation and intellectual challenge that comes from learning something new.

Lifelong Learning for a Well-Rounded Senior Lifestyle

In addition to keeping the brain sharp as you age, lifelong learning can create opportunities for seniors to experience a well-rounded lifestyle that involves other elements of senior health. From connecting with others to serving your community, there are plenty of ways your pursuit of learning can help you enjoy a meaningful life. Consider the following:

  • Keep Moving – If you’re looking for ways to stay active as you age, learning a new sport, taking dance lessons or even going birdwatching can combine physical activity with the benefits of learning. Even if what you’re learning about doesn’t necessarily tie into exercise, new interests can still give you places to go and people to meet as you pursue your hobbies and interests.
  • Make Connections – Socializing with others is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. As you learn something new, reach out to others who know about the topic or practice that particular activity. Learning is made more exciting and meaningful when you learn with other people. Consider joining a class offered in your community to enjoy the benefits of a social group.
  • Give Back – Depending on what you learn, you may find that this area promotes plenty of opportunities to give back to your community. Maybe you can tutor young students or volunteer at your local library. Perhaps other seniors are looking for lifelong learning opportunities, and you can help them by starting a club or lecture series in your community.
  • Renew Old Passions – Most of us have a few hobbies we thought about but never tried, or that one area of curiosity we never got a chance to learn about. Now could be the perfect time try! Maybe the one photography class you took in high school will spark the creativity you desire for your life now. If you put old passions or interests to the side to focus on your family or career, now could be the perfect time to renew them.
  • Practice Self-Care – Experts say that learning something new gives us a sense of accomplishment, which in turn boosts our self-esteem. The benefits of lifelong learning are excellent forms of self-care, as they promote emotional health and a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Build a Life You Love!

“Lifelong learning offers seniors amazing benefits for their health and happiness,” says Battey. “And best of all, it’s completely personalized. What you learn and how you grow is up to you and the things that interest you.

“At an active senior living community like amavida, seniors enjoy the maintenance-free lifestyle and abundant resources that make it easy to pursue lifelong learning. Whether you want to take an art class on campus or attend a guest lecture, the possibilities are endless.”

If you would like to know more about the benefits of lifelong learning and the lifestyles available at a senior living community like amavida, reach out to our team today!

Keep moving forward. Call us today at 239-895-9191 to learn more about the community that’s changing the status quo of senior living.