Lifelong learning can have a profound impact on retirement. Is it ageist to think learning and creativity are for the young, not the young at heart? Absolutely!
Cultivating a habit of learning isn’t just about mental health and creating a more interesting life. It can impact health, too, making the difference between successful aging and preventable decline, and slowing or avoiding the onset of dementia.
Harvard Medical School concurs with the positive impact of learning on aging, stating challenging the minds of older adults with complex skills like digital photography or quilting stimulates the brain more than simpler mental activities like crossword puzzles. To encourage this, they offer free or nicely discounted tuition to those over age 65 who are interested in exploring interests but don’t need to earn credit hours towards a degree.
Arizona State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has a similar program with a robust schedule of classes worth taking a close look at. New semesters begin in the Spring and Fall, mirroring their degree program calendars.
Colleges and universities aren’t the only places encouraging this. Some community centers and independent living communities offer programs, too.
Celebrating 5 years of lifelong learning at La Loma
Sun Health firmly believes constant learning is an indispensable part of healthy aging. It’s an essential piece of its Masterpiece Living® model that challenges aging stereotypes with an integrated lifestyle that blends physical, social, spiritual and intellectual activity.
In keeping with this, 2018 is the five year anniversary of La Loma University , a program offered to residents of Sun Health’s La Loma Village community in Litchfield Park, AZ. It expanded in 2017 with the launch of the Julia Sweeney College of Fine Arts, which became instantly popular with residents and winning a LeadingAge Best Practices Award.
For months before the art program’s launch, the retirement community’s program director, Windy Hadley, and other members of La Loma Village’s Life Enrichment team collaborated to research, develop and launch the fine arts college named in memory of former La Loma Village resident Julia Sweeney, an artist who formed the first art club on campus.
“The team spent hours and hours researching and developed different variations of programming that would be intellectually appealing and fun to everyone, even people who are not artists,” Windy says.
It’s a fine addition to the community.
Tackling fine art as a hobby
Fulfilling both the social and intellectual sides of Masterpiece Living, creative art hobbies can provide impressive benefits in keeping the mind sharp, but it has strengths in other areas, too. Expressing our creative side has healing benefits that reduce depression and anxiety, along with enhancing quality of life and wellbeing. Even those who’ve never tried painting, drawing or another form of art can benefit, with inner creativity waiting to be set free.
If you’ve decided to remain in your own home through retirement, researching options for an art class can be very beneficial. It’s a fun way to meet people, continue learning new skills and get out of the house. For those considering a move to an independent living community, looking closely at the activities provided is every bit as important as checking the housing and care options. Thinking about the lifestyle and activities that interest you the most will help you decide where to go.
Sun Health Senior Living offers three Masterpiece Living life plan retirement communities in Arizona, and a lifestyle focused on good health, wellbeing and independence. Beyond continuing care, each community also includes the Life Care guarantee to protect you against potential costs of long-term care down the road.
To learn more, we invite you to explore our website or attend an upcoming workshop near you.
To speak to someone immediately, please contact Jackie Lusson, our corporate director of sales, at 623-236-3767.
(Originally published Sept. 5, 2018; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)