Staying sharp by improving and sustaining brain function is an important issue among aging seniors. There are many ways that older adults can maintain their cognitive abilities. One of the most effective methods for staying sharp is taking in adult education classes.
Benefits of Adult Education
Learning strengthens neural connections that can prevent adult brains from deteriorating with age. Mental stimulation can prevent the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia, slow the degradation of memory and motor function, and ward off conditions like depression.
Yet the mental exercise provided by adult education has a variety of benefits that work together to strengthen adult brains. According to this publication by the Dana Foundation, the four tenets of successful brain aging are education, mental exercise, socialization, and self-efficacy. While it's clear that adult education classes address the first two tenets of successful brain aging, the remaining two tenets are also covered by adult education classes:
- Socialization. Adult education classes can provide numerous opportunities for seniors to socialize with other adults. By putting adults with similar interests into one room, each class becomes a unique opportunity to engage in a stimulating discussion with a variety of people.
- Self-efficacy. Adult education classes can cover a variety of practical topics from woodworking to personal finance. Each new class teaches seniors how to better take care of themselves, keep themselves entertained and live independently.
Best Classes for Staying Sharp
Certain types of classes continue to benefit students years after taking the class. These classes will help seniors maintain their mental functioning for as long as possible:
- Foreign language classes. A recent study conducted by the University of Edinburgh shows that bilingual adults are able to maintain cognitive abilities better than those that speak only one language. Learning a foreign language is also conducive to foreign travel, which can contribute to the mental growth of an aging senior.
- Hobby-developing classes. Some adult education classes teach students new hobbies. Learning a new hobby (such as painting, sculpture or sewing) gives seniors something to do outside the classroom. New hobbies can also lead seniors to join clubs and social groups for people who engage in those hobbies, which fulfills the socialization tenet described by the Dana Foundation.
If you're a senior hoping to maintain your cognitive abilities into your retirement years, adult education can help. Contact a local college or university like NKU PACE for more information about classes in your area.