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How Lifelong Learning Keeps You Feeling Young

senior looking at a laptop and writing on a piece of paper sitting at a desk

Science has shown our brain continues to adapt in response to new experiences regardless of our age. When we gain knowledge or practice a new skill, our brain creates new neural pathways. We increase its resilience. And we get better at coping with change. Lifelong learning is truly good for our health. 

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

Learning strengthens the connections between the different parts of the brain. You’re probably familiar with computerized brain games. While these are fun and are touted to prevent mental decline, a study found learning a difficult new skill or engaging in a challenging activity like playing chess is what really strengthens entire networks in the brain.

The mental stimulation of lifelong learning can also help seniors manage physical and emotional symptoms of stress. Research from the University of Sussex discovered when seniors read for just six minutes a day, they had lower stress levels, better heart rates, and felt less anxious. Lifelong learning for seniors opens the door to growth and fulfilment and to new social situations. It can be a great way to make friends and build a sense of belonging.

Our self-esteem and feelings of competency also get a boost when we master knowledge. We develop critical thinking skills and self-understanding. This confidence helps us become more active participants in our healthcare, choosing healthier behaviors and consequently living longer.  

What Does Lifelong Learning Look Like?

Henry Ford said it well: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” And these days, it’s easy to keep learning. Tap on your phone or other mobile device, and you’ll find a world at your fingertips. Professional courses, books, podcasts, one-on-one instruction and how-to videos are all available online with a good internet connection.

If you’re an older adult with a love of lifelong learning, a structured program of noncredit classes or continuing education will be more beneficial than an occasional online tutorial. This is where a university-based retirement community like The Woodlands offers a big advantage. We’re right next door to Furman University, where an on-campus building is dedicated to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) classes. These ongoing education programs are designed specifically for adults ages 50 and older.  

Lifelong Learning Is More Fun at The Woodlands

Through OLLI, residents of The Woodlands participate in classes, lectures, hands-on experiences, daytrips and cultural events. There’s a wide array of subjects for your every interest: Shakespearean literature, Hitchcock films, bridge and poker, Latin, estate planning, weather forecasting, fitness, and dance classes — the list is fascinating, diverse and nearly endless. Our alliance with Furman University also means you’ll enjoy other benefits: golfing at Furman University Golf Club, book borrowing privileges at the university library, freedom to walk the university trails, and discounts to Furman music and athletic events.

Yes, lifelong learning will keep the spring in your step. It will exercise your memory, give you more opportunities to socialize, and keep you healthier and happier. And at The Woodlands — it’s fun! You’ll be among people who love being students, who want to keep learning, and who are eager to engage with others like them.  

Learn how to stay young with our energizing lifestyle for active agers. Reach out anytime to ask us questions or to schedule a visit.