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3 Reasons ‘Back to School’ Is For More Than Just Students

It’s back to school time across the country, which means children are organizing their backpacks, sharpening pencils and picking out what to wear on day one of the new school year. Autumn can be a relief for parents because it gets their kids focused again after a long summer of needing to be entertained.

But this time of year is also a great time for adults of any age to crack a few books, sign up for a class or do something else to foster lifelong learning. This is especially true for senior citizens, because a passion for learning after retirement helps stimulate the mind, which in turn helps keep the body going.

Here are three reasons seniors should value lifelong learning—and consider taking an educational venture this fall in sync with our nation’s schoolchildren.

1. Keep Your Mind Sharp

Think of education as calisthenics for your brain. Learning something new opens up our minds and stimulates our brain cells. Whether lifelong learning is about taking in fresh information, developing a new skill or simply a way to keep up with the changing world, education helps seniors remain engaged with life.

2. Improve Your Memory

As we age, certain brain functions inevitably decline, even before we reach our golden years. But neuroscientists believe that certain functions (such as processing speed) tend to decline first, but that other functions (including long-term memory) remain strong late in life. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and performing the mental calisthenics of lifelong learning can help keep our memories working longer and more efficiently.

3. Fight Age-Related Diseases

According to a 2012 study from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, cognitively active seniors (averaging 80 years old) were 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than seniors who performed less cognitive activity. While research is still being conducted, it makes sense that lifelong learning is a kind of “mental exercise,” and has similar benefits to physical exercise.

Lifelong Learning in Senior Care Communities

Life is arguably better than ever for today’s senior citizens, thanks to the many choices available to them for retirement living. Active seniors are flocking to independent living communities for the social life and a wealth of planned activities—from cultural outings to fitness classes.

And seniors who need day-to-day care have access to great amenities in assisted living communities, where care is a safety net that allows residents to live life to the fullest. At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, for instance, our residents enjoy mingling over meals and taking educational field trips to museums and other cultural attractions.

We’re here to help our residents with their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, and we know lifelong learning plays an integral role in our residents’ mental health. To learn more about the many activities we offer in our communities, visit your local Bethesda community today.