Education looks different these days. There’s a range of subjects beyond reading, writing and arithmetic that we never dreamed of when we were in school decades ago. Teaching has evolved to include virtual workbooks and classrooms, and self-directed learning is possible no matter where you live. We live in an era where learning doesn’t have to end at a specific age but is something to do for a lifetime. It inspires Broadview’s plan for independent living, one that will be unique among senior independent communities in Westchester, NY.
When you incorporate lifelong learning into a thoughtfully planned and robust retirement lifestyle, you set the stage for an active, stimulating future. The benefits are far-reaching:
You can rewire your brain and create new neural pathways at any age. Unsurprisingly, engaging in learning is great exercise for your brain. But did you know that when you stretch yourself and step out of your comfort zone, you make a lasting improvement to your memory? By taking on something that really challenges you —learning a language, coordinating dance steps with a partner, or playing an instrument, for example — you strengthen those neural pathways.
In fact, engaging in mentally challenging activities may actually help to prevent the onset of memory problems and other Alzheimer’s symptoms. Researchers found that seniors who learned a demanding new skill had a significant and lasting increase in memory. Even after a year, they did better on tests than those who participated in an activity but were not mentally challenged.
- TRY THIS: Challenge yourself to learn a musical instrument. (Pick up a new one if you already play.) Playing music engages different parts of your brain at the same time. It integrates your vision, hearing, sense of touch and fine motor control, and has a profound effect on your brain. It can also enhance your reaction times, decision-making and problem-solving skills. And because of this complex sensory and emotional relationship, music memory is the last part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s memory loss.
Lifelong learning also has a beneficial effect on your physical health. Even a few minutes of reading lowers stress, eases blood pressure and relaxes muscle tension. Research from Harvard and Princeton also suggests that those with more education increase their life span with more informed health behaviors and decision-making. They have lower rates of anxiety and depression, and fewer chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and emphysema.
When you join a class or are part of a community learning atmosphere, you’re going to meet other people who share your interests. You’ll widen your social circle and make more friends — vital to quality of life and a sense of belonging, especially for older adults.
CHECKLIST: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?
Even if you already know what subject you want to pursue, these questions will help you define your personal journey of lifelong learning.
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you regret never learning?
- What are your strengths?
- What do you find challenging?
- What are you proudest of in your life, and why?
- What do you value most about yourself?
- What do you want people to think of when they think of you?
- What do others say is special about you?
- Who inspires you?
- In 10 words or less, what is your philosophy of life?
Take time to write down and think through your answers. You’ll find out what makes you tick and reconnect you with passions that have been dormant. And be patient with yourself — learning something new is a messy adventure that can feel awkward and uncomfortable at times. But it will be meaningful and fulfilling in the long run. If you’re considering senior independent communities in Westchester, NY, look no further than Broadview. Our array of activities, classes and events makes it easier for you to try, change direction, and try again.
Broadview senior living is one of the very few university-based retirement communities in the nation. Our future location on the Purchase College campus reflects our belief that the passion for lifelong learning in Westchester, NY, doesn’t fade with age. Diverse and fascinating opportunities are open to you as a Broadview resident, and one such example is the Learning Commons. A multipurpose gathering area, it will serve residents, students and faculty with classrooms, performance spaces, art galleries, a makerspace, a dance studio and an audio-visual learning lab. Reach out to us for more information.