The Cognitive Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Seniors
Why it's important to continue learning as you age
Our ability to learn, discover and explore is what helps us find meaning and purpose in life. For example, mastering a new recipe can help you feel accomplished and appreciated when you make it for your family. Or, reading something new offers insights you can share in your next book club meeting. Lifelong learning is beneficial at every stage of life, including your golden years.
Contrary to previously held beliefs, cognitive abilities don’t necessarily decline with age. Lifelong learning offers many benefits for senior well-being and can enhance your mental and intellectual wellness.
Lifelong Learning Aids Intellectual Ability
Ongoing exploration into aging has found that older adults have resilient cognitive abilities. In a study published by Scientific Reports, researchers tested the verbal working memory of older adults (average age 66) compared to younger adults (average age 22) by having them determine if pronouns in sentences were used accurately.
The study showed that older adults oftentimes outperformed younger adults in the task and responded just as quickly. There was also evidence that older adults use additional brain regions with cognitive activities, suggesting buoyant mental capacity.
Other research has found that continuing education may add to this cognitive resiliency. In a study published in The Journals of Gerontology, researchers found that older adults (average age 69) who participated in courses like Spanish and music composition showed improvements in working memory and episodic memory.
What this research suggests is that your intellectual aptitude doesn’t necessarily decline as you age, offering a much more positive mindset on aging. Studies like these also support just how important lifelong learning is for your mental health and wellness.
Why Lifelong Learning is so Important for Seniors
Cognitively stimulating activities like reading, watching documentaries, and getting out to explore the world around you offers the following cognitive health benefits:
- Increased Neuron Generation. Lifelong learning has been found to stimulate greater neuron generation and connection in the brain. Neurons are responsible for sending information throughout the body and when this is improved, it positively affects memory, attention, thinking, and reasoning skills.
- Reduced Risk of Forms of Dementia. This greater neuron generation can maintain and enhance brain health. Activities like learning a new language and mastering a new gardening technique are cognitively stimulating and may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
- Improved Ability to Handle Challenges. Simply reading a book or practicing an instrument can decrease muscle tension and blood pressure. Lower stress levels can help you better cope with challenging situations and changes in life.
- More Socialization. One of the best parts of lifelong learning is it can be done with others! Learning courses, discussion groups, and book clubs can spark social interaction that is intellectually engaging and helps you avoid depression and isolation.
Your golden years are the best time to explore your interests and continue learning. And, senior living communities like Knute Nelson can help you say goodbye to time-consuming home maintenance and enjoy more lifelong learning!
Live an Active Lifestyle at Knute Nelson
Knute Nelson offers senior living and assisted living communities where residents experience housekeeping, home maintenance, wellness programming, restaurant-style dining, and many more amenities and conveniences. Whether you like to quietly read to yourself or participate in resident-run organizations and clubs, there are countless cognitively stimulating activities at Knute Nelson to enhance your intellectual and mental well-being.
Last updated: September 20th, 2023 | By: Kaylee Yamry