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Aging Gracefully: Lifelong Learning

There are several things about the month of August that I am confident about. August is the last official month of summer. The weather in Iowa will have hot temperatures and high humidity, all month long. Most families will be scrambling to complete the things on their summer list. Lastly, school will resume toward the end of August. As school gets underway, you should consider making a commitment to lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is a way aging adults remain challenged, investigate new possibilities, and stay engaged with the dynamic world we live in.

There are several benefits to maintaining focus on learning for a lifetime. It allows us to keep our minds active and improves memory. Learning facilitates social interaction and increases confidence. Lifelong learning instills a feeling of accomplishment. There is a multitude of opportunities to learn throughout our communities, churches, senior centers and area colleges. Find something you are interested in and get enrolled for a class. Many of these are free of charge or at a discount for older adults. We do live in a busy world, and it can be hard to find the time to learn anything that is not essential. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for instilling the habit of lifelong learning.

  • Always have a book. Set a goal to always have a book that you are reading. It does not matter if it takes you a week or a year to finish it.
  • Keep a “to learn” list. It is very common to have a “to do” list. Try keeping a “to learn” list. Write down ideas for new things you would like to learn. Maybe it is to learn a new language or skill. If it is written down, you are more apt to do it.
  • Teach others. Share your newfound knowledge with others. Volunteer at a local school or your nearby senior center. The repetition of sharing will help to solidify learning.
  • Start a project. Do something you are not familiar with. Learning something new will be both a challenge and fun.

There are not many external forces that will persuade you to learn. The desire must come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.