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The Importance of Lifelong Learning for Seniors

We’ve all heard the old adage about the importance of learning something new every day. This is easy when we’re young and have decades of life experience stretching ahead of us. As we get older, we learn more about ourselves – and learn what sorts of things engage us, inspire us and interest us. And surprisingly (especially for those of us who might not have always enjoyed school learning or other institutional settings), learning becomes even more enjoyable and important as we enter seniorhood. 

“A strong connection between mind, body and spirit is essential to aging well and living a happy, fulfilled life in our senior years,” says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley. “A great way to strengthen that connection is through lifelong learning. By seeking opportunities to grow oneself in different ways, we participate in active aging, which helps us remain healthier, be more fulfilled in our senior years and even stay more mentally sharp.”

The good thing is that seniors want to remain intellectually engaged during their golden years. Many wish to continue learning and be active in the arts, culture, civic affairs and even science and spiritual matters. An AARP study noted that seniors who plan on continuing to learn say that they want to continue to grow, keep up with what’s happening in the world and simply have fun learning something new.

According to the article “Lifelong Learning – Encourage Elders to Exercise Mind, Body, and Spirit” by Nancy Merz Nordstrom, lifelong learning presents countless rewards for seniors. “Incorporating lifelong learning into the after-50 years means elders’ minds will be more stimulated, their bodies more active, and their spirits more fulfilled,” she writes. 

“Lifelong learning is really about the ways to keep the mind, body, and spirit stimulated, challenged, and fully engaged in the after-50 years … Studies show that keeping brains stimulated helps elders retain mental alertness as they age. The brain’s physical anatomy actually responds to enriching mental activities. Scientists have discovered that the brain, even an aging brain, can grow new connections and pathways when challenged and stimulated.”

How Lifelong Learning Benefits Seniors

It helps reduce cognitive decline. The Harvard Business Review suggests that remaining engaged and active in the learning process has many provable benefits to your health, especially with regards to your brain. Learning to speak a new language or play a new instrument, for example, can help offset cognitive decline. It’s also been proven that learning a difficult skill when you’re older results in improved memory – so you can teach old dogs new tricks! Some evidence even shows that lifelong learning can help treat or potentially prevent conditions like dementia. 

It helps you live longer. If the brain isn’t challenged, its capabilities and capacity erode over time, which leads to decreased cognitive function and memory. As these abilities decline, mortality rates and risk factors increase significantly. In other words, being bored isn’t just boring – it actually can be life-threatening. 

You have a better quality of life. A study by the University Program for Older Adults at the Autonomous University of Madrid compared older adults who participated in lifelong learning with those who didn’t. The study discovered “significant differences between the two groups for social and productive activities and emotional balance. The university students also did better on tests of information-seeking and general health awareness. These results stayed consistent even when the researchers controlled for education and age.” So lifelong learning doesn’t just help you live longer – it helps you live better. 

It gives you purpose and personal control. Psychology Today reports that lifelong learning environments help seniors cope with poor self-image and depression. One reason is that learning new things creates a sense of personal control. In a Brandeis University study, researchers found that having strong social ties, staying physically active and pursuing self-improvement gave seniors a sense of authority over their destiny, which improved their state of mind and overall well-being. 

How Waterstone Offers Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Seniors 

According to a 2016report by the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of adults consider themselves lifelong learners – people who seek activities to learn and grow even after they’ve retired. Waterstone at Wellesley understands the importance of keeping residents engaged in lifelong learning. 

From concerts and performances to lecture series from experts and traveling speakers, to onsite classes where you can learn cooking techniques, computer skills, creative arts, gardening and more, residents will find a lifestyle that enriches, fulfills and promotes healthy aging here. 

“Waterstone at Wellesley features a full social calendar with endless opportunities for engagement and personal growth,” says Kristine. “From historical lectures and film reviews to our courtyard concerts and creative arts classes, there’s something for everyone ... and if you don’t see the activity or class you’re looking for, talk to us and we’ll help you create one that’s perfect for your interests.” 

Lifelong learning doesn’t stop when residents step outside our doors, either. Our community provides easy access to Boston’s arts and entertainment, local colleges and universities and a plethora of educational and historic sites. The possibilities for lifelong learning are practically endless – as are the opportunities to grow in knowledge and enjoy your senior years. 

For more information about how Waterstone at Wellesley helps our residents enjoy the benefits of lifelong learning throughout their senior years, please contact us at 781.235.1614.

Beautiful Riverfront Community

Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.

Celebrating Dynamic Living

Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.

Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors. 

Confidence of Care

The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone. 

For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.235.1614.