Adult Education: The Benefits of Post-Compulsory Education - The Older Learner

Beneficial Outcomes

The results of education can be manifold. For example, as one 'betters' oneself, by gaining knowledge, one's self-esteem might improve, and one's confidence may then increase.

Active involvement in an interesting topic can result in the learner becoming a more interesting companion. Also, of course, becoming a member of a group of people with similar interests can generate new friendships.

These are outcomes which are not particularly defined as 'learning outcomes', but they are certainly beneficial.

These could be considered 'psychological' benefits, which might contribute to improved 'mental' health.

But there are also 'physical' benefits. While using the mind, one is exercising the brain ~ keeping it active and healthy.

Of course, education alone may not do this ~ one needs good food, exercise, fresh air, etc ~ but education is particularly beneficial for older learners.

Benefits and Rewards ~ Life-long Learning and the Older Student

Mental Abilities

During my late teens, when I was at school and college, it was often stated that one's mental abilities peaked between the ages of 18 and 28; and we students believed it! We were sure that, if we did not complete bour educvation, successfully, within the next few years, then we would have left it too late.

Yet now, it is accepted that education and learning are life-long activities.

A quote from 'The Age Heresy', by Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene, sums it up:

"Of course, any book that gives advice on improving mental powers can be equally applicable to an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old, or even a 118-year-old!"

Health Benefits

Some years ago, I read a newspaper article about a man, who discovered that he had alzheimers Disease. He was in his late 50s and he was devastated by the news.

However, he decided to try to fight this illness and concluded that, if he exercised his brain, then he might be able to improve it enough to counteract the decline being caused by the disease.

He attended various Adult Education classes; he learned languages; he read; he did anything, in fact, that he thought would stretch his mind and make his brain healthier.

When he returned to his consultant, there did not appear to be any further decline ~ and the gentleman in question felt more healthy and alert than he had done in a long time.

This was not seen as a cure, and, by now, his condition may, or may not, have deteriorated. I do not know. however, for a while, at least, education was a better remedy for this man's illness than was any medicine.

Challenging 'Older Learners'

In 'Older Learners; The Challenge To Adult Education' (edited by Johnston and Phillipson), Ian Walker devotes his chapter to the creation of learning environments in institutions, which care for the elderly.

He gives details of a nursing home, in the USA, caring for sixty-seven elderly patients.

In 1976, sixty-six percent of these people were classified as 'heavy care'. By the following year, only nine percent were so classified.

The main reason for this significant reduction seems to have been 'a programme of restorative activities'.

Such activities are used in a number of homes and hospitals in Britain as well as America. Examples of these activities include: games, such as whist, scrabble and bingo; outings; musical events; films; talks; craft classes; languages; gardening; poetry and reading; local history; dance therapy; yoga ~ and other suitable options.

British Example

A memorable British example, of education improving health in the elderly, is given by S. Jones in 'The Educational Experience in Homes and Hospitals'. it is quoted by Ian Walker:

Mrs. H.

Aged 83.

West London hospital patient.

Chairbound.

Severe arthritic and stroke difficulty.

Indifferent to surroundings and frequently incontinent.

Difficulty in moving chair about.

Scored low in Hodgkinson mental test.

Persuaded to attend twice-weekly art class.

'Three months later: ... marked physical improvement. When previously needed two nurses to propel her wheelchair, now wheels herself about unaided. She is still chairbound, but now only requires minimal help with dressing and feeding and is much more co-operative with staff. Washes herself, cleaner in her habits, completely continent ... brighter mentally. Most dramatic improvement noticed by all staff and her daughter, who says she is brifhter and easier to talk to. Mental score 7 out of 10.'

Dr Brothers

In 'What Every Woman Should Know about Men', the American psychologist, Dr Joyce Brothers, discusses the problems of middle-aged and elderly men ~ particularly the retired.

She talks about depression and even death ~ and she puts many emotional and physical health problems down to lack of purpose and lack of friends.

She comments: '... when a man retires, unless he has prepared himself for this state, he often has the feeling that he has lost his identity and status ... he begins to feel nostalgic about the time when he was 'somebody' ... ' and 'anything a woman can do to encourage her husband to become active in the church or the community, to enrol in a language or photography class, ... to sign up for a callisthenics or swimming programme is on the plus side.'

*

Joyce Brothers is, apparently, still very active, herself. She was born in 1927 and in 2011 was advertising a home safety monitor on TV!

See: http://www.alertusa.org/commercial.html

Joyce Brothers - Born 1927

1. With her Book - By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Phyllis Twachtman, 2. 'AlertUSA' advert 2011. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Joyce_Brothers_NYWTS.jpg and: http://www.alertusa.org/commercial.html
1. With her Book - By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Phyllis Twachtman, 2. 'AlertUSA' advert 2011. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Joyce_Brothers_NYWTS.jpg and: http://www.alertusa.org/commercial.html

'Waiting for God'

We can see that education classes for older people can have real health benefits.

This is something for governments to consider, when worries arise concerning the costs of caring for the elderly, as the average age of the population increases. It was pleasing to see that England had appointed a minister for Life-long Learning.

Adult education can enhance the quality of life for some of the loneliest people in the country ~ people, who often feel that they are of little consequence ~ and who have very little of consequence going on in their lives.

As the situation comedy of the same name implies, once people enter a home for the elderly, many of them are just 'Waiting for God'.

[See: http://www.bis.gov.uk/ministers/john-hayes]

Success


Without meaning to sound in any way patronising, I would say that society must note that the older learner can ~ of course ~ take part in educational classes, perfectly successfully, provided the classes are correctly geared to their needs and wants.

The myth about losing one's mental capacity as one ages is just that ~ a myth.

Indeed, in many cultures, the words that go with great age concern experience and wisdom, rather than degeneration and senility.

Here, in the UK, old age is often viewed in a negative way

As quoted by Buzan and Keene:

'For many [men], the half century is bringing an end to careers they thought would go on a lot longer and, they hoped, further. ... they are cast as the fat being shed in the latest corporate diet plan.' And these men are only 50! [1996]

Apart from the fact that education could boost the self-esteem of such men; provide a target for their ambitions; help them to make friends; give them a purpose in life and contribute to their improved health, it could also help them to retrain for a new career.

According to their site, the 'University of the Third Age' states that "U3As are self-help, self-managed lifelong learning co-operatives for older people ..." and they publish useful educational books, especially for the 'older and wiser'.

[http://u3a.org.uk/home.html]

Some U3A Books

Front Covers (Amazon)
Front Covers (Amazon)

Elderly Philosophers

Most of us will have seen quite elderly writers, politicians, professors, war veterans and others being interviewed on television ~ and we have probably marvelled at their abilities; their story-telling powers; their memories; their knowledge of times past and their willingness to philosophise on times present.

Probably, we have also seen sad old people, institutionalised in old people's homes, or sitting, alone, in their own homes.

Is it that the former are intrinsically different?

Are they lucky, because they have interesting lives, and are more alert? ~ Or are they more alert, because they lucky enough to have interesting lives? There is a difference.

*

For example, the retired UK politician and academic, Shirley Williams, 1930 ~ The Right Honourable The Baroness Williams of Crosby ~ is clearly intelligent, learned, articulate and interesting. In her early 80s, she is still formidable is televised debates

Shirley Williams at Birmingham 2010 - Aged Almost 80

Shirley Williams at Birmingham 2010. 'I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.'See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shirley_Williams_at_Birmingham_2010.jpg
Shirley Williams at Birmingham 2010. 'I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.'See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shirley_Williams_at_Birmingham_2010.jpg | Source

Buzan and Keene: 'The Age Heresy'

Here are some more quotes from Buzan and Keene, whose book is subtitled 'You Can Achieve More ~ Not Less ~ As You Get Older.'

They confirm that older people are able to be extremely skillful in their chosen field and, therefore, they also prove that older students can be very competent learners.

'Tony Buzan was becoming increasingly impressed, on his worldwide tours, by the inquisitiveness and extreme readiness to learn of his older listeners.'

'... the work of the great geniuses tended to improve as they got older. ... Goethe, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Michelangelo ... . In many instances, their supreme masterpiece was their final work, produced in extreme old age.'

'The autopsy on Einstein's brain ... revealed 400% more glial cells than the norm. Since these cells specifically aid inter-connectivity in the brain circuits, the effect would have been to boost his power of association ...'

'In his 80s, Sophocles was charged by his son that his mental faculties had waned ... Sophocles' son took him to court, with the aim of publicly proving the decline in his father's mental abilities. ... Sophocles conducted his own defence: "Here is the script of a tragedy, which I have just completed, if you doubt my mental competence, take the script away and I will recite it in its entirety". ... when Sophocles reached the second act, without having made a single mistake, the case ... was thrown out of court.'

Front Cover
Front Cover

Einstein and Co

When Einstein died, leaving that unusually well-developed brain, he was 76 years old.

*

Goethe was 83 years old, when he wrote the second part of his 'Faust'. This was in 1832, the year of his death.

*

Michelangelo, the Renaissance genius, was aged 89, when he died.

In his last years, he was chief architect of St. Peter's ~ and, consequently, of its dome.

Einstein's Death - Aged 76

PD-PRE1964; PD-US-NOT RENEWED.. See:
PD-PRE1964; PD-US-NOT RENEWED.. See: | Source

Use It Or Lose It

On 29th December, 1999, Christine Doyle wrote an article, for 'The Daily Telegraph', concerning health and the brain. The title includes the words 'Your Brain Needs a Workout, Too'.

A spokesman for 'Research into Ageing', which funds studies to improve the quality of older people's lives, is quoted as saying "It really is a question of use it or lose it".

The article stresses the need for good nutrition, plenty of drinking water, and exercise ~ but it also mentions brain games, and activities which involve study!

Michelangelo at 72

Michelangelo Buonarroti by Giulio Bonasone 1546. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo_by_Giulio_Bonasone.jpg
Michelangelo Buonarroti by Giulio Bonasone 1546. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo_by_Giulio_Bonasone.jpg | Source

The Elderly?

Since it has now been realised that older people are generally quite capable of participating in education geared to their needs, and that such education is beneficial, not only to the individual, but to society in general, what should be done?

First, whom do we mean by 'older learners'? ~ Some people might find it insulting to be categorised thus. People of only 50 have been mentioned in this item ~ surely they are not 'old'?

The point is that they were perceived as 'old' by the employers, who had had power over their lives ~ and they were subsequently left feeling 'past it'.

In these circumstances, they were labelled as, and probably felt, 'old'.

The terms 'old' and 'older' will certainly cover those in homes or hospitals for the elderly ~ but will also include anyone who has been made to feel 'elderly'.


What To Do?

What should be done for the 'elderly' in terms of education?

Many retired people attend dance classes ~ they learn; they exercise; they socialise.

Many others belong to the 'University of the Third Age' (U3A), where they hear ~ and can take part in ~ lectures and debates. This gives them ample stimulus.

Adult Education classes and Open Studies classes are generally priced more cheaply for senior citizens. Because of this, and the fact that many classes are available during the day, they are well attended by the retired. Some senior citizens enrol on university degree courses.

Others attend clubs, local history societies, etc etc.

Those who take part in these activities are probably the people who are enjoying their 'old age' ~ the ones who seem young for their age.

It is the lonely, house-bound people, and those in institutions, who need more consideration.

What can be done for them ~ to improve their lot?

Generally, the government has tended to see education as being relevant only to the young, and to unemployed adults, who need to re-train.

Yet newspapers often report on the drop in the birth rate and the potential problems of an aging society.

Perhaps the government should give serious consideration to providing organised educational facilities, in residential homes for the elderly. It could reduce the need for medical expenditure and for high maintenance care.

In the meantime, perhaps those who are working in, or who have worked in, the field of education could take it upon themselves to provide this service on a voluntary basis. Indeed, some already do!

[U3A: http://u3a.org.uk/ ]

Personal Experience

My late grandmother, when she was 95, had to spend a short time in a residential home, for respite care.

This was her first such experience and she said that it was a lovely place with lovely staff.

After only one week, though, I could see a real difference in her. She seemed to be deteriorating noticeably. For her age, she was actually quite fit at the time, yet she became very reliant on her 'zimmer' frame and , indeed, rarely left her room. She became somewhat listless and started to go to bed very early.

However, on two of her days, she was given the opportunity to join a small group activity. One was an exercise session and the other was a craft session. She thoroughly enjoyed them, took part keenly and conversed with the tutors.

She said that the tutors were hoping to have her in their groups the following week, but she would be returning home then. My grandmother believed that they welcomed her presence because she was the only one who joined in ~ she had not, yet, become institutionalised!

As we have seen, though, research has shown, that this process of institutionalisation can be reversed, if enough classes and interaction are available to residents. It seems that more tutors need to be willing to go in, more often, to help.

Comedian George Burns - An Active Mind Until His Death at 100

I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under  the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:George_Burns_Allan_Warren.tif&page=1
I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:George_Burns_Allan_Warren.tif&page=1 | Source

History - My Subject


My own subject is history.

What can 'History' offer?

Many older people are only too happy to talk about their early days ~ this is how 'oral histories' may be acquired.

A project, conducted by Birmingham Central Library (UK), a few years ago, involved their home visiting team.

To increase their historical resources, and to show interest in and respect for, older citizens, they recorded interviews with members who were over 90 years of age.

It was very rewarding and productive on both sides.

This is something that could be done in private and residential homes by history tutors.

Indeed, I have worked on such a project, myself.

Local and Family history

Both Local History and Family history are popular interests.

It would appear that these are subjects, which seem to become more attractive, as people grow older.

Both subjects are educational and allow for valuable conversations. Slides and photograph albums make ideal resources to use in such sessions.

Help To Remember

I noticed that one lady, who was living in the residential home that my grandmother visited, was very confused. She said that she wanted to go home, but could not remember where home had been.

I noticed her Welsh accent and commented that my mother was from Wales. For a few seconds, there was almost a sign of recognition in her expression. She said: "I am from Wales, but I don't know where." Then she became a little more muddled and said: "I think I'm from Wales. I don't know." Sadly, she ten lost track of the conversation completely.

Could she have been helped by a 'lesson' about her home town ~ with pictures? Would a recording of a male voice choir have been beneficial, perhaps? Could tutors use their skills to improve the life and health of ladies like this?

Music

With reference to music, when my father was in hospital, with his final illness, I took in some tapes of his favourite singers and musicians, from the 1940s.

I was concerned that these would disturb the other patients, but they loved them.

The music made them feel better, because it was from their own era.

One ex-dance teacher, who now had trouble walking, insisted on dancing to Fred Astaire, and Glenn Miller, using a high-backed chair as a partner.

From this experience, I concluded that music classes ~ the 'right type' of music ~ would probably be very popular in homes and hospitals.

The elderly can revisit their own pasts via music. This could be linked to social history classes or to oral history projects.

I know that musical classes and events are very popular in the local over-sixties club.

Widower 'Saved'

According to an article in the 'Times Educational Supplement', a man named Fred Moore was once the oldest man in Britain.

At 107 years of age, he claimed that when his wife died, two years before, his art lessons 'saved his life'. They enabled him to keep going at an incredibly difficult time in his life.

"Instead of sitting and crying about it, I decided to get on with my art."

[Mr Moore died in 2002, at the age of 109 years.]

*

About Fred Moore:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/kent/hi/front_page/newsid_9427000/9427933.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1939959.stm
http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=329785

Feed Both Mind and Body

To keep the elderly youthful and healthy, they need a strong body and an active mind.

Both mind and body need to be well-nourished ~ with good food and interesting learning opportunities.

Knowledge and ideas are the food of the soul ~ and the world of education must provide for those who require it.

Many can go to educational establishments, in order to provide for their learning needs, but, for those, who are not in a position to do so, the educational establishments must, with their permission, and, hopefully, by their invitation, take learning opportunities to them.

Teaching (Dutch1662)

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adriaen_van_Ostade_007.jpg
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adriaen_van_Ostade_007.jpg | Source

Rewards


As an Adult Education Tutor, I taught a group of students, who were aged between about 50 and 96.

The majority were aged between about 60 and 75.

I taught them for six years.

The students attended, because they wanted to attend. They were keen, interested and intelligent.

They were a joy to teach ~ and I learned as much from them as I ever taught them.

Including the older learner in Adult Education classes is rewarding and beneficial for both teacher and student!

I recommend it ~ to students and teachers ~ and the government!

'Old Woman Dozing' - But She Has Also Been Reading (Two Books) And Lace-Making!

Public domain ~ out of copyright See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maes_Old_Woman_Dozing.jpg
Public domain ~ out of copyright See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maes_Old_Woman_Dozing.jpg | Source

Teaching Accreditation Programme

This item is based upon an essay I wrote, as part of a 'Teacher Accreditation Programme', for 'Adult Education' tutors, in 1999-2000.

References

'Older Learners, the Challenge To Adult Education' ~ Susanna Johnstone & Chris Phillipson (Eds) 1983

'The Age Heresy' ~ By Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene. 1996

The Oxford Companion to the Mind ~ Richard L Gregory. 1987

What Every Woman Should Know About Men ~ By Dr Joyce Brothers. 1985

The MacMillan Encyclopedia ~ 1988

Birmingham City Library Over-90s Home Visits Project. 1999

Times Educational Supplement. F E focus. January 14th 2000.

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago

This is a very interesting hub. There is no reason at all to stop learning. We should be learning until we take our last breath.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Yes, absolutely, Hummingbird5356 :)

I agree!


Old Geezer profile image

Old Geezer 5 years ago from Newport, Oregon

My college decided that, since I was over 75 years old, they would be better off with a younger and cheaper replacement. I, personally, think that I am now a better teacher than I have ever been. And I have always been rated highly in that regard. It irritates me. Am I entitled to a bit of "sour grapes?" Just kidding. Excellent post. I am not done learning yet.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Old Geezer :)

I don't blame you, feeling as you do. You are definitely entitled to sour grapes, if you want them :)

I thought that age could no longer be used against someone re employment?!?

But yes! Keep learning; stay young! :) :)


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

Good info, Trish. Thanks for writing it.

The brain was made to make new connections. We start dying the moment we stop letting that happen.

cheers


Old Geezer profile image

Old Geezer 5 years ago from Newport, Oregon

Age, per se, can't be used by someone re employment, however there are many ways to avoid or circumvent hurdles. Its almost understandable that during periods of money stress, the employer might prefer one who is lower on the salary schedule. However, I don't have time for sour grapes. Perhaps, even, my employer has done me a favor? Take care.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

It is never too old to start! You have written a hub should make people re think their limiting beliefs about old age and I am glad you have done this. Thank you.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Anton, Old Geezer & Spirit Whisperer :) :) :)

Thanks for responding!

Yes, learning can keep us young and healthy, it seems.

Greetings from sunny Spain :)


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

Trish your last comment made me laugh. When it showed up on the 'home' for hubs, all I saw was:

"Hi Anton, Old Geezer and Spirit Whisperer"

My first thought was 'how does she know how old I am, and isn't it nice that she thinks I can talk to spirits'

Made me laugh until I realized there was an 'Old Geezer' and a 'Spirit Whisperer' in the post. (Hi guys) (nar, nar, nar).

Enjoy Spain!

cheers


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Anton

Just popping in from sunny Spain :)

It is very hot here!


stessily 5 years ago

Trish_M: Very interesting presentation of a timely topic. I also enjoyed the image of the ex-dance teacher who was inspired to dance with high-backed chair partner to the nostalgic music which you thoughtfully brought to your father in hospital!

There are so many musicians who have carried their musical abilities into the "golden decades", but I couldn't help but think of a very modern example: Paul McCartney. Whodda thunk that the "cute Beatle" would --- in his sixth decade --- still be pumping out tunes, having art exhibits, still be causing the hearts of women of all ages to flutter, and be showing no signs of slowing down? He just turned 69 at the beginning of this summer!

Voted across the board for this well written and well researched piece!

Kind regards, Stessily

(P.S.: Any ETA for your hub on Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron?)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Stessily :)

Thank you for your comments. Yes, a lively mind is a young mind! Sorry for the delay in responding ~ just back from France + Spain!

I found most of my notes on Ms Byron, but they aren't sorted out yet ~ sorry. Will try to get them organised soon :)


stessily 5 years ago

Trish_M: Ah, sunny Spain and la belle France! And here I am ducking downpours on the heels of a surprise, nearby (2+ hours) earthquake and Hurricane Irene. :-) I do think from time to time that I live on the wrong side of "the pond."

Welcome back from, assuredly, a lovely vacation!

My P.S. was merely a reminder of my interest. I understand the time differential between sorting out notes and writing the final sentence; I'm carrying no less than 50 hubs in varying stages in my mind, in my heart, or in notes! I look forward to the hub, whenever you finish it. It is worth waiting for. :-)

Kind regards, Stessily


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Stessily :)

Yes, I, too, am carrying around lots of 'hubs in varying stages' and in varying places :) :)


Anaya M. Baker profile image

Anaya M. Baker 5 years ago from North Carolina

What a great hub! One more benefit I'd add to being a lifelong learner is the benefit to your children! My mom was a student almost my entire life. In her 30's, with 3 kids and a full time job, she went to school for a nursing degree. It took 6 years to finish, but no sooner had she done that then she signed on for a B.A. Decades later, and I got to attend my mom's graduation for a Masters degree. She celebrated by going back to school for a B.S. Not only am I proud of my mom, I think her achievements directly influenced me to keep learning. As I get older, I find it gets easier and easier. Sure, I don't have the capacity for rote memorization I might have had in my early 20's, but overall I find that comprehension, quickness of mind, the ability to apply concepts to different situations only increases. I'd say 30 on is the best time for learning!


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Anaya :)

Yes, I think that parents, who enjoy studying and learning, must be setting a good example to their offspring.

Thanks for your comments :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Whoever declared 'the ability to learn peaks between 18 and 28' obviously doesn't know any mentally (if not physically active) 85-year-olds!

I'm decades away from that age, but have always been a curious person and sensed years ago that the brain, though not an actual muscle, MUST be exercised constantly or it WILL atrophy and become useless.

No one knows for sure what causes Alzheimer's - there seems to hope for cure or at least arrest of progression with insulin nasal spray - but it's been my experience that the mentally lazy succumb to it more often than those who never stop being curious about the world.

Interesting you should mention one of my fave PBS/BBC programs, Waiting For God. I loved Diana and Tom's exchanges, but after the last fundraising marathon in August, the local PBS station dropped WFG and doubled up on "Last of the Summer Wine" instead, entertaining (sort of) but not half as *intellectually* entertaining as WFG!

You suggest government-sponsored programs as a way to encourage late-life learning, but I suggest surfing the web the internet can be just as enlightening. It has been for me. I've explored many parts of the world and learned much about subjects that interested me (and discovered some I didn't know I was interested in!) without leaving home. Not to mention met many new friends with the same interests, social interaction this hermit is loathe to do in person.

An 86-yr-old friend who happens to be legally blind keeps me on my toes. Since she can't see well enough to use the internet (but with special software CAN email), I get daily requests from her to look up this and that. With audio books and weekly visits by a human reader, she also "reads" constantly, usually books I never would've found on my own. Between look up requests and her "you must read this" list, she has expanded my horizons immensely.

As for the ability to analyze and resolve problems declining with age, that's a myth that can easily be disproved with any number of tests!

Great hub! ;d


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello JamaGenee :)

Thank you for your very positive comments! I agree with you, of course :)

Unfortunately, I do know some highly intellectual and academic people, who wrote and studied for as long as they could, but who still, sadly, succumbed to Alzheimers. It's a horrible thing.

Thanks again :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Which is precisely why we need to stop wasting money on "niche" studies such as the mating habits of the tsetse fly and find a cure for Alzheimer's. 'A mind is a terrible thing to waste.'


Old Geezer 5 years ago

I'm not denying the importance of finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease. However, I also think it is important to find out how to eradicate, or at least control the tsetse fly. This fly carries African Sleeping Sickness which prevents people from living near many streams in parts of Africa. It also infects cattle with this disease. This disease is lethal in both cattle and man, and kills thousands of both every year.

Your choice of the tsetse fly as an example of wasted money is, perhaps, a poor one. I can think of several better examples.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi again :)

Yes, there probably are some 'silly' ptojects going on ~ even if the tsetse fly isn't one of them ~ but I think that it can be difficult to decide what is and what isn't worth researching.

Definitely, I think that Alzheimers deserves research money ~ and I wonder, sometimes, if 'diseases' of the older person are actually given as much weight as some other health problems.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York

Quite a hub with a lot of research. I too think the definition of the word old is a matter of semantics and as you have pointed out, many "old" people have made tremendous contributions to society. I believe we should all be lifelong learners. Great hub. Voted up and interesting.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Yes, indeed, Tillsontitan, 'we should all be lifelong learners'. I'll second that.

Thank you for your kind words :)


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

I am all for life long learning and learned a few interesting things right here.

I read Buzan years ago on how to improve your memory.

I read the book an then forgot where I had left it.

I never found it again.

I find that as I age, my teaching is improving just like old geezer above.

I always enjoyed teaching but took a few years out.

Now I am back and am a much better all round teacher than I ever was before.

I firmly believe now that we have to maintain our mental agility by practice.

As you pointed out. We snooze, we lose.

Great hub all the votes and sharing on facebook


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Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi and thank you, molometer! :)

Your kind words are very much appreciated.

And I agree ~ learning is a life-long pursuit.

I actually have somethinmg to add to this item, because I read, the other day, that courses were going to be available to the elderly, in residential homes, and online, because of the benefits! Great news!

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