Words from the Wise: Never Stop Learning

September 2, 2020

Words from the Wise: Never Stop Learning

“Intellectual stimulation is like physical exercise. To stay healthy, you need both,” says Dr. Rita Bornstein, former president of Rollins College and a resident at The Mayflower.

It’s a lesson we can all benefit from: While formal schooling may be well behind you, education doesn’t have to be. Science supports the idea that humans are meant to learn over their entire lives – not only in classrooms, but also through personal study, skill workshops, and day-to-day experiences. For adults, that kind of “lifelong learning” is critical for staying sharp, healthy, and happy.

Dr. Bornstein is a firm believer that you should never stop learning – and that didn’t change when she moved to The Mayflower. She spent her summer writing a memoir, mastering sudoku puzzles, and videoconferencing on academic panels. Right now, she says, there’s more reason than ever to keep challenging your mind.

“There’s no question that lifelong learning is really a way of keeping seniors vital and feeling alive,” she says. “That’s what I tell anyone who’s feeling lonely or bored. Learn to knit, or to program a computer!”

Here are three ways to be an effective learner – at any age:

  • Pursue your passions. Learning as an older adult is one of life’s most liberating experiences: An education where lessons aren’t limited to a classroom syllabus or the schedule of a school day can often be the most rewarding. Instead, curiosity takes the lead. From art and astronomy to physics and programming, there are no boundaries on what you can learn – or the benefits you can reap as a student.
  • Stay active. Think of your brain as a muscle: It becomes stronger with regular activity, and more sluggish when idle. But that’s more than a metaphor — staying physically fit actually increases your ability to learn and think critically. Exercise improves the flow of oxygen to your brain, generates chemicals like serotonin that help you focus, and even protects against illnesses like dementia.
  • Challenge yourself. When you learn new skills, your brain has to work extra hard to develop new neural pathways – instead of just reinforcing the ones you’ve already developed. Languages, music, and technology are especially beneficial: They’re all skills that rely on a complex interaction of implicit and explicit learning, which improves your ability to focus and solve problems.

At the Mayflower, we believe a commitment to wellness means thriving in body, mind and soul – chasing passions, learning new skills, and being assured of quality, compassionate care. To learn more about our community – including our brand-new Bristol Landing expansion – contact us here or give us a call at 407-672-1620.