(LEARN NEW THINGS, TRY NEW THINGS)
“Anyone who stops learning is old whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
Learning is an important positive ageing strategy to help you remain vital in your later years. Learning in old age preserves intellectual functioning and ward off memory decline (dementia) which is very common in old age. By learning new things you are improving your brain health-your mental faculty, attention, memory. There is a saying- “use it or lose it”. If you are not using your brain you will lose its functioning. Learning is a lifelong process. If you are continuing yourself educating you will stay up to date.
Learning, like physical exercise, is effective when you develop a habit or pattern of doing it. Learning, to begin with, requires some initial effort. If you persist it will become easier to do and you will get satisfaction from the outcome. Learning needs persistence and sustained effort. Do not worry about the slow process of your learning. Remember you are not going to be examined. Suppose you want to learn some musical instrument you may encounter some difficulty, don’t lose your motivation to learn.
You may raise a question –“ what one should learn”? It is an important question. The answer is – it depends on your choice or interest or your curiosity to know. Learning desire is the strongest motivation. For learning in old age, a strict classroom setting is not essential. Life-long learning is expanding learning beyond classroom settings and into the home. You may use the Internet and computer, ( you may join senior internet networks) Radio, Television, Print media, etc.
Learning in old age is a form of personal fulfillment. This is your opportunity to exercise your true interests and pursue something simply because you are interested in it or you are curious about it. First, you examine your beliefs about yourself as a learner. Therefore, it is suggested that ask yourself before perusing a learning opportunity :
- How do I learn?
- What do I want to learn?
You are still capable to learn. Learning can help you remain intellectually active. So mobilize your resources of learning. First, you must have a belief that you may learn new things,( or learning is possible in old age), Identify your curiosities or interests and know your learning strengths and weaknesses.
You may learn music, a new language, writing, game or some skill of your interest. The benefit from learning will come with time, learning involves persistence and patience.
Learning in later life is optional. Therefore, learning can be a hobby or a leisure pursuit.
The senior citizens who pursued educational experiences expressed the following views :
- Learning is how I became more engaged with others
- I like learning because it opens up new ways of thinking and relating to the world.
- It’s fun to learn new things.
- I enjoy the challenge of acquiring new skills’ learning makes me feel more youthful.
- When I learn. I challenge the saying “ you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
Cognitively impaired elderly can also learn. Learning in such cases is very useful as a strategy to give a boost to their self-enhancement. Cognitively impaired persons ( persons with AD) have curiosity, creativity and intact sensory processes. Family caregivers should motivate elderly people to learn something-/some skill/ some activity.
Learning requires the integration of social, emotional, aesthetic, spiritual and cognitive domains. The whole person is considered. Caregivers should provide an opportunity for the elderly to explore familiar materials in meaningful ways so that they may interact with others as a consequence of the process.
Respect and caring are at the foundation of the educational curriculum for such elderly persons.