The old adage is that you can’t teach and old dog new tricks, but it’s not true. Older adults can be lifelong learners and pick up new skills for as long as they want. The AARP released a study on lifelong learning and found that “55% of Americans age 45 and older are actively learning new things”. That means that there’s really no end to learning and you never have to feel like you’ve aged out of the classroom. All you need is a desire to learn, and you’ll be in very good company with many other older adults that feel the same way.
While 42% of adults 45 and older identify as a “lifelong learner” many more say they intend to engage in learning as they age, the study found. If those who indicate they would engage in lifelong learning in the future were to do so, the lifelong learning market would equate to more than 92 million people spending an estimated $6.9 billion annually. That’s going to account for a whole lot of learning in the future and these numbers are on pace to continue growing as time goes on. There’s really no reason to hang up your thinking cap!
Learn on your Own
Of course, you don’t have to sign up for continuing education classes if you don’t want to. Learning is personal, the study revealed. Three quarters (76%) learn best by reading on their own, and the majority (71%) chooses to read or gather information by themselves, then find opportunities to apply their new knowledge. Still, 72% turn to the internet and YouTube in particular, when seeking new information. This is especially true when seeking information on a new technology (66%) or developing a new skill (63%). Because the research was conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings reflect the recent growth in online engagement including things like video conferencing, the researchers noted. Engagement in learning is particularly high among those with passion projects and those interested in new technology.
All you need is an internet connection and you’re free to learn any subject that excites you. There are more than enough resources on the internet to help you learn about anything and the possibilities are endless. If you want to discover new information, then there’s always a way to make it happen. You can become an expert without ever stepping foot in a school.
Keep your Brain Active
All of this comes together to tell you that keeping your brain active is incredibly important to you. As people seek education, the primary drivers are to gain new knowledge and stay mentally sharp. Learners are driven less often by social pressure, and both men and women saw learning as part of controlling their personal well-being, with the vast majority (83%) believing it is vitally important to keep your brain active. Similarly, 54% are motivated to stay sharp or promote brain health. So, keep your brain healthy and keep learning for the rest of your life!