10 Lifelong Learning Themes for the Elderly

10 Lifelong Learning Themes for the Elderly

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A learning environment makes life more fulfilling. It inspires and stimulates individuals while staving off loneliness by providing opportunities for social engagement, another important factor influencing well-being.
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Lifelong learning can help residents feel connected and included in the mainstream of everyday life. Stimulated brains are key to a healthy life!

We all have natural abilities, some of which we have never had the chance to develop; but it is never too late! Many elderly residents are interested and capable of learning new things. Learning opportunities can help them find more joy and fulfilment from daily life.

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning opportunities inspire and stimulate residents while helping to stave off feelings of loneliness by providing opportunities for social engagement, another important factor influencing well-being.

Research indicates that learning new skills can provide many benefits including:

  • Improves cognition & memory
  • Boosts confidence and self-esteem
  • Reduces dependence on others
  • Positively alters mood and behaviour
  • Improves dexterity
  • Provides an opportunity for positive engagement with the community

Barriers to Overcome

Barriers to overcome include the physical impairments of your clients. For example vision, hearing and cognitive deficits or mobility issues. We need to adapt learning activities to suit individuals.

Lack of motivation and interest from residentscan also be tricky to overcome. Try to find the reason behind the attitude. They may feel embarrassed, threatened, or unwell. If you can't change their minds, invite them to observe a learning group in action. Watching their peers engage in rewarding experiences with enthusiasm may spark their interest.

How to Get Started

Learning should never be boring. Find something they always wanted to learn about or are passionate about. Make it exciting, joyful, and comfortable. Facilitators should enjoy themselves in the process, and avoid 'going through the motions'; if it is not fun for you it is not going to be fun for them either.

  • Start with a small group of people, say four or five willing residents.
  • Consult them to find out what they wish to learn about.
  • Praise them for being willing to give it a go.
  • Draw on relatives and friends willing to share their skills and expertise.
  • Alternatively draw on community groups, churches, and other charity organisations. For instance, you could organise a trip to a museum or gallery. You may also hire or invite guest speakers to talk about theme subjects for educational purposes.
  • Make sure the educational environment is conducive to learning, noise is minimised, and lighting is adequate.

Learning Activity Ideas for the Elderly

Educational travel, cooking or baking, politics, religion, the sky's the limit! Consider an internet tutor if you have difficulty finding a suitable leader for your learning activity.

An enthusiastic and positive facilitator will make the classes fun and lively. Don't forget that creating stories, ceramic painting, discussion groups and trivia sessions are a great way to introduce learning to residents.

You may also expand an existing activity into an educational activity. For instance, a gardening session could include a book on succulents or bulbs for a small group of people to browse, learn about its origins, when it flowers, edible fruits, size etc. Then, choose a few bulbs to plant and go on a trip to a nursery where they can learn more things about plants.


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Comments   Post a Comment

Janet 11th Jul 2020 Coordinator, Adult Day Center
This post has really inspired me! I send out weekly packets to our seniors while we are shutdown and I'll enclose Lifelong Learning in them.

We haven't had any clients for four months...your ideas will keep me from getting rusty!

Thank you!
Susan 11th Jul 2020 Activity Director
Hi Janet
Yes learning is a lifelong process when you stop learning stop living
This is what I told our residents
I told them I do not want to see their brains rolling down the halls because they are not using them
Solange 28th Jan 2017 Diversional Therapist
Hi Helen, I think you are doing well; it is a challenge to motivate clients when their attention span is so short. You could try activities such as Proverbs, Nursery Rhymes/Lullaby, Scent Guessing, and quizzes which remain in their mind despite dementia. By all means try audience participation and flash card short stories. Best wishes.
Helen 27th Jan 2017 Home Duties
Our Seniors Church members about 4-5 members visit one Care facility about once every 3 months due the scheduling of other programs for the High Care participants. We play the piano and sing small chorus's familiar from Sunday School. Its the short talks I'm concerned about. It can be a bible story or one with a moral or just something to get their interest. None could play a game. most are confined to beds, while others just sit un-engaged. As I am a fairly bright Senior, I try to speak slowly and clear, I try eye contact and touching as well. I can see that their attention span is limited but I am trying to find ways to spark their interest. Should I try Audience participation? tell a story with flash cards? any help would be really appreciated.
Lorraine 24th Jan 2017 Diversional Therapist
I will include a learning activity on the next calendar - sounds great
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