Any expert will tell you that no matter a person’s age, there’s always something new to learn. But Diane Ackerman said it best when she affirmed, “play is the brain’s favorite way of learning.” 

As we get older, it’s even more important that we find creative (and entertaining) ways to keep our critical thinking and other cognitive skills sharp and focused.

At Sweetwater, we believe in the benefits of lifelong learning for seniors. In fact, we host many interactive and engaging activities throughout the week at our retirement community.

These activities allow residents to flex their creative muscles, have fun, and stay social. They also provide healthy challenges to get the body moving to help strengthen the body and mind, too.

In fact, many studies continue to show that moderate physical activity is just as important for your brain’s health as mental activity. 

Why Is Lifelong Learning Important?

Your brain is made up of neurons (cells). And when you engage in learning, a process begins that allows your brain to create connections between these neurons, called Neuroplasticity (also referred to as brain plasticity). However, in order to strengthen this connection, you’ll need to practice learning regularly:

“Your brain has the ability to learn and grow as you age…'[e]ventually, your cognitive skills will wane and thinking and memory will be more challenging, so you need to build up your reserve.”

Harvard Health Publishing

When you make learning a part of your daily routine, and challenge yourself by learning new things, you help your brain grow and improve its essential functions:

“Much research has found that creative outlets like painting and other art forms, learning an instrument, doing expressive or autobiographical writing, and learning a language also can improve cognitive function.”

Harvard Health Publishing

More Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Seniors 

Every brain likes a good challenge to stay healthy, but did you know that lifelong learning may also help you manage stress and build meaningful relationships with your neighbors and community?

Let’s explore a few other benefits:

Stay Up-to-Date with Technology

We don’t have to tell you how new advances in technology paired with 5G networks have taken on a whole new meaning these past few years. It can be intimidating to keep up with all the tech jargon. But learning has a way of making you practice important life skills. This includes using a computer, tablet, or other smart device. 

And there are many resources available online, even classes you can take, to help you stay informed and aware on how to use these new technological capabilities, so you can benefit from them, too.

Help with Memory 

Because learning helps stimulate the brain and create stronger neuron connections, and may also create new ones, lifelong education may help improve cognitive reserve (Johns  Hopkins Medicine). 

Although there is still not enough evidence to say for sure whether learning can prevent dementia, what we do know is that, just as staying active keeps your body in shape, keeping your mind active will help your brain stay sharp, too.

Improve Confidence

Taking a cooking class, drawing a painting, or learning how to play the guitar are all effective ways to boost your self-esteem—not to mention expand your skill set. 

Learning helps you achieve a sense of accomplishment. This may help prevent negative thinking that keeps you away from trying something new.

Reduce Loneliness

Most learning activities are performed in groups vs. on your own. This might include a book club, university course, or arts and crafts event. Like you, others are there to expand their minds and enjoy the benefits of lifelong learning.

Learning gives you a unique opportunity to meet new people, share stories, and get to know those who live nearby. It may help prevent feelings of isolation or loneliness. These both are contributing factors to other health conditions we can develop with age, including depression or anxiety.

Lifelong Learning for Seniors at Sweetwater

In addition to exciting weekly events, activities, and programs, Sweetwater also offers residents exclusive access to our Primrose Senior University (PSU). As part of our Life Enrichment Program, PSU features in-person courses on a wide range of topics to expand our residents’ minds while they learn, create, share, discuss, and engage on interesting subjects together.

Want to learn more about PSU or our other weekly activities designed to provide opportunities for lifelong learning? We encourage you to contact us for more information! 

Happy Learning!