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Lifelong learning can be defined as "a cognitive process by which [adults] continue to
develop knowledge, skills and attitudes over their lifetimes" (HEW, 1979). However, as aptly
noted by Rick Lamb:
Lifelong learning institutes (LLIs) offer a wide range of activities and non-credit classes in the U.S. and
Canada for persons aged 50+. The
National Resource Center provides links to the 117 programs that
make  up the Osher Foundation network of lifelong learning institutes (OLLIs). Here you can also find links
to travel packages that contain an educational component.
retirement planning
travel in Italian countryside
Lifelong learning is a lifetime commitment, not a one-semester course. It requires openness to new
ideas and willingness to rethink old ones, flexibility in dealing with complex problems, and recognition
that there are few simple or foolproof answers to complex problems. It also requires acknowledgements
of how one's own assumptions and life experience can influence and sometimes distort judgments. It is
a unique but critical process of learning, relearning, and unlearning as conditions change and insight
grows
[Richard Lamb, The Lifelong Learning Institute Review, 2011]
Educational travel & lifelong learning
3 graces
Copyright © 2012-2014
James Emil Flege
Use it or lose it? This is probably overstating the case. However, Denise Park (Center for
Vital Longevity, UT-Dallas) cites research suggesting that "older adults who maintain an
active lifestyle or who engage in a range of intellectual pursuits" tend to be diagnosed at
later ages with Alzheimer's disease than do people without these traits. In fact, there is some
evidence to suggest that "a high level of education confers protection against
neurocognitive aging and decline and is a type of cognitive reserve." [
Clin Neurosci. 2013(1) 109-19]
What kind of mental activity helps? There's no silver
bullet, of course.  However, a recent study in
Psychological Science suggests that certain kinds of
activities are more helpful than others. According to D.
Park et al.  "The key is do something unfamiliar that
takes you out of your current “comfort zone” and
provides a broad array of social and mental stimulation
(learn more
here)
    Did you know?
Number of US residents 65
and over: 40.4 million
The population of Canada  
34.9 million
Demographers estimate that
half of all human beings who
have ever lived beyond age
65 are alive today
Number of Americans aged
65+ who are the primary
caretakers of a grandchild:
485,000
Additional life expectancy for
men now aged 65: 17.3
years. For women: 20.0 years
For every 100 woman over
65 there are just 77 men
the brain is far more plastic than was believed 20 years ago
taking classes is one way to avoid cognitive decline in old age
Greek temple in Magna Grecia (Sicily)
Where can I learn something new and stimulating? As we live longer
and economic conditions change, older Americans are facing challenges
unknown a generation ago. A
30-year retirement makes inceasingly less
sense, even for those who can afford it. The best way to slow cognitive
decline may be to continue engaging in meaningful mental activity that has
a social component. Fortunately, as baby boomers retire in greater
numbers, opportunities for meaningful challenges in later life are increasing
as well. Here are a few possibilities to consider
Take a class on a topic you know absolutely nothing about
Learn a new skill that requires you to use your eyes, ears, hands and memory
Skill acquisition is not just learning "about", it's learning to do, engaging both body and mind to produce
something that's interesting, new and perhaps helpful to others. There are endless possibilities. To name
just three:
Transform your yard into a garden, studying along the way to become a Master Gardener in an
American Horticulture Association program.  
Learn to play contract bridge competitively through a local club.
Create a WordPress blog and become an expert in a new topic you share will others around the world
creating a blog is fairly easy. filling it with posts that others will want to read is more of a challeng
consider transforming your yard into a garden
contract bridge is a stimulating activity that promotes successful aging
Launch a new "encore" career for fun and/or profit
Successful encore careers often build on skills and competencies developed during the "first" career,
adding a public or social service component and placing greater emphasis on satisfaction than profit.
However, don't rule out trying something that is entirely new. As you may know, Grandma Moses earned
lots of money and had great fun when she started painting at age 76, having been forced by arthritis to
give up embroidery. Grandma famously observed: "If I hadn't started painting, I would have raised
chickens". With respect to her longevity, Grandma said "Painting's not important. The important thing is
keeping busy."
Grandma Moses, the self-taught American painter
Travel with a purpose. Study and read before you go, and once you reach your destination(s)
take the time to understand and appreciate what you're seeing.
Organized tours, to be sure, offer important advantage but tend to engender passivity. Consider planning
your own itinerary based on your own reading and research, spending up to a week at a time in each point
along the way.
Slow travel can be enjoyable, stimulating, and even inexpensive in the off season.
In the meantime, what's the single most important thing you can do to improve your physical and mental
health, increase longevity and overall quality of life? You of course already know the answer, but if you
need more facts to convince yourself, here they are, presented in a concise and entertaining lecture by Dr.
Mike Evans that is entitled "23 1/2 hours"

Lifelong learning | Adult educational learning vacations