There are so many research-based reasons for continuing education as we age, it’s hard to know where to begin. From the Alzheimer’s Society comes the happy news that learning in later life can delay the onset of the disease. The Journals of Gerontology report learning multiple skills simultaneously can enhance brain power in older adults to levels similar to those who are decades younger! As most learning is done in conjunction with others, education also leads to opportunities to socialise, and it is clear from research when older adults socialise, it keeps their brains sharp. So, armed with this information, let’s take a look at the many learning opportunities available in our communities.
Public University Lectures
Whether you are academically inclined, or otherwise, there are free public lectures available at our universities around the country. As a quick snapshot, we uncovered free university lectures in ‘How to Make Perfume’, ‘The Marine Environment’, ‘The Basics of Sign Language’, and ‘Sustainability’. And that’s just for starters! What’s more, lectures are often available online as well.
Botanic tours and talks
If gardening and nature is your passion, check out your local botanic garden for seasonal tours and talks. Wend your way around these beautiful spaces with experts who can tell you about their specific area of expertise, and answer your questions. As an example, check out the Dunedin Botanic Gardens and Auckland Botanic Gardens events calendars. If you live in a smaller centre, enquire at your local garden club about opportunities to learn from others.
Libraries aren’t just about books – they’re about knowledge in general, which is why they are one of the best sources of learning opportunities. Check out the events calendar of your local library to see whats on offer. You’ll be surprised to find it often includes everything from learning a new craft to viewing a film or listening to talks on a wide range of subjects. Check out what’s on in Wellington libraries, to see what we we mean!
Learn an instrument
Perhaps you didn’t have the opportunity to learn an instrument as a child, or you simply want to improve the musical skills you already have. If that sounds like you, why not check out music teachers like Lewis Eady who can tailor music lessons especially to adults. Your voice is also an instrument, and it doesn’t have to be the most perfect one in order to join a community choir. The concentration required to follow a musical score or the instructions of a director will sharpen your brain in no time!
If you’re a fine arts buff, there’s bound to be a life drawing class near you (if not, why not contact a local artist and ask if they’re willing to offer one). However, there are also art classes in a whole range of mediums. Some of them even cater for adults and children at the same time, so you can attend with a grandchild. For some great examples check out Young at Art.
Learn a language
Learning a language is such an exciting way to challenge your brain. The excitement is doubled when you team language learning with travel. Whether you work at it through a free, fun, online platform such as Duolingo, or for a moderate fee from the likes of the French Institute, you’re brain neurons will be firing in no time at all!
If you’re a practical hands-on person (or want to be), sign up to a Shed (also known as ‘Men’s Sheds’ – although many have women’s memberships as well). You’ll have the chance to participate in personal as well as community projects, and to learn from those around you. Some Sheds also conduct special skills classes.
The opportunities for learning as we age are limitless. All it takes is a phone call, an online search, or a visit to your local community support centre to find out more.