If you walk into almost any store during this time of year, you’ll be bombarded with shelves overflowing with bookbags, pencils, notebooks, and lunch boxes – and aisles that are overflowing with parents hurrying to check off all the items on the kids’ back-to-school supply lists.
Though we may equate the new school year with children, it’s also a great time for seniors to consider taking a class or two as well and reap the many benefits of lifelong learning, such as:
- Improved cognitive functioning. Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital recently collaborated to study the impact of intellectual stimulation throughout the lives of seniors, and discovered a marked reduction in memory problems, such as those that occur in Alzheimer’s disease. Not only that, but a separate study conducted by the University of Texas at Dallas found that older adults who engaged in a new, mentally-stimulating hobby actually gained long-term increases in their memory skills.
- Improved physical and mental health. Lifelong learning is linked to a reduced rate of both anxiety and depression, in addition to a reduction in a variety of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, ulcers, asthma, and others. Even just reading for as little as six minutes helps reduce stress levels by lowering the heart rate and easing muscle tension, leading to improved blood pressure and cardiovascular health, as well as a more robust and efficient immune system.
- Improved socialization. The tendency for isolation in seniors is especially concerning. Taking classes offers the experience of community that is so crucial to our health and wellbeing. It also allows for the development of friendships with others who share a similar interest.
Along with in-person classes, there are endless opportunities for online learning, right in the comfort of home. And in many cases, online classes are being offered at no cost or at a minimal fee for seniors who aren’t interested in earning academic credits. Seniors can choose from a variety of topics of interest, and work at their own pace and according to their preferred schedule. AARP offers a listing of some of the top e-learning websites for seniors, ranging from learning new languages to cooking tips, computer programming, musical skills, and so much more.
At Nightingale Homecare, the top-rated Phoenix home health agency, we’re committed to improving quality of life for seniors each day, and we love helping to spark an interest in lifelong learning. Our care team can help research classes of interest, set up online programs, offer transportation to in-person classes, and even take care of housework, meals, and laundry so seniors can focus on their newfound passion!