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The Pursuit of Lifelong Learning in Retirement

When it comes to retirement, seniors these days have no intention of slowing down. Instead of treating retirement as a time to sit back and watch the world go by, many of today’s active seniors are choosing instead to turn over a new leaf. It’s not uncommon to hear of seniors taking up activities like hiking, sailing or learning a new language – after all, they finally have the time and the resources to pursue these passions! Not only does this keep life exciting after retirement, it also helps keep today’s active seniors fit and healthy for longer. 

“Experts today consider wellness to be much more than just getting enough exercise and eating right,” says Jake Quigley, Executive Director of Waterstone at the Circle, a luxury independent living community in the heart of Boston at the crossroads of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue. “Mental and emotional health plays just as big a role in helping seniors age well and stay as active as possible. Remaining intellectually active improves seniors’ well-being, provides a sense of purpose, helps develop a sense of community and connectedness and also helps stave off cognitive decline.”

How Lifelong Learning Helps Mental Acuity

While activities like socializing with friends, participating in a favorite hobby like baking or woodworking or getting out and enjoying a theatrical performance are fulfilling and engaging, they don’t have the same effects and cognitive health benefits that lifelong learning does. Staying busy is important, but in order to keep your brain functioning and at peak performance, a level of intellectual challenge and mental stimulation is required. 

A 2012 memory and aging study took a look at 1,200 seniors and how cognitive activity affected their mental sharpness. Results showed that by increasing their brain function by learning new things, seniors were 2.6 times less likely to develop dementias like Alzheimer’s disease than peers who had less cognitive stimulation. 

Another study, conducted by the University of Texas, looked at three groups of seniors who were tasked with different forms of activities. One group set about learning a new skill like sewing or a new language. The second group was asked to do simple activities like listening to music or doing a crossword puzzle. The third and final group joined some form of social group. The results showed that seniors who were learning a new skill gained improved memory compared to the other two groups. This is due to the processes in the brain that are engaged when learning a new skill – both short and long-term memory are being used, as well as a continued length of high-level cognitive processes being used over a period of time. 

Lifelong Learning for a Well-Rounded Senior Lifestyle

The words “lifelong learning” conjure up an image of carrying around a backpack and taking diligent notes while in class – right? That’s definitely something that happens. In 2014, NBC News reported that more and more seniors are headed back to school to acquire a new degree, finish an old one or simply try something new. We’re even hearing stories of octogenarians and nonagenarians donning a cap and gown and graduating! But lifelong learning doesn’t have to be going back to school in the traditional sense. 

There are many, many non-degree programs and activities that can provide the same benefits. It’s all about finding something you want to learn (unlike what you had to learn, like you did in school the first time) and discovering ways to make it happen. Here are a few great resources to help you discover lifelong learning opportunities in retirement

  • Your community’s Parks and Recreation or continuing education department
  • Your area Council on Aging or a nearby senior center
  • Adult Learning classes at a local college
  • Community organizations like the YMCA

Different Types of Lifelong Learning

In addition to keeping your mind sharp in your senior years, lifelong learning allows you opportunities for a more well-rounded, fulfilled lifestyle that touches all levels of wellness. Here are some perhaps-not-obvious avenues for lifelong learning that can provide the same benefits:

  • Move & Groove – Taking dance lessons, learning a new sport or joining an exercise class can give you the benefit of intellectual stimulation along with physical activity. Even if you don’t necessarily break a sweat, you’ll pick up a new interest and meet other people who share the same interests as you. 
  • Get Social – Joining a group like a book or movie club pair socializing with brain-exercising, both of which are important for a healthy lifestyle. Learning or experiencing something new is more enjoyable and meaningful when you’re with other people. You can start your own group, join one offered by your community or take a fun class like cake decorating.
  • Volunteer and Give Back – While you’re learning, you can help others learn as well. Consider tutoring school kids, or starting a class of your own to teach other seniors new skills.
  • Renew Old Passions – We all have hobbies and activities we had an interest in but never got around to trying, or something you enjoyed doing that fell by the wayside. Retirement is the perfect time to dust off that hobby or start a new one! Grab your camera and take a photography class to spark your creativity and capture meaningful moments. Or fire up your still and learn all about microbrewing. 

“Lifelong learning is part of an active, independent lifestyle like the lifestyle we promote at Waterstone at the Circle,” says Jake. “At our luxury retirement community, our residents enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle and high-end amenities that make it easy for them to pursue lifelong learning opportunities. The opportunities are endless, and we’re ready to show you how great this time of your life can be.”

For more information about our luxury retirement lifestyle, contact the staff at Waterstone at the Circle. 

Luxury Senior Living in Boston

Waterstone at the Circle, located in Boston’s historic Cleveland Circle neighborhood, is more than just independent living in Boston … it’s a sophisticated urban setting for today’s active seniors. Enjoy best-in-class service and a vibrant lifestyle with arts and cultural, and historical attractions right outside your front door. From high-end amenities to gourmet dining and more, experience the best of city and suburban life at our upscale senior living community located on the crossroads of Brookline and Chestnut Hill. 

Elegant Independent Living Apartments

Each of our 92 independent living apartments is the height of luxury and modernity, with sophisticated design, upscale features and stunning views of the city. Create the urban senior living experience you want with one- or two-bedroom apartments, a variety of floor plans and monthly rentals.  

Senior Living Supportive Services

As an over-62 community, residents may require support from time to time. That’s why we’ve developed an on-site coordinated care program, in cooperation with our premier community partners, that allows our independent living residents to receive the assistance they need.

The best part? Residents don’t have to leave our senior living community – or even their apartment – to receive high-quality support. They can receive the services they need, when they need it, in the comfort of their own homes or in our on-site therapy gym.

Waterstone at the Circle is the opposite of retiring ... it’s a place to enhance your active, on-the-go lifestyle. Call 617.431.1880 for more information or to schedule a visit to our vibrant Boston independent living community and discover The Circle lifestyle today!