Use It or Lose It – The Importance of Remaining Intellectually Active

I am intrigued by a recent UCLA study that found the act of Internet searching “may help stimulate and possibly improve brain function” in middle-aged and older adults.  More detail on this study click here.

It’s great to document these positive effects, but I think we know intuitively that individuals who remain intellectually active and socially connected have a higher quality of life than those who do not. When it comes to mental function, the rule definitely is, “use it or lose it.” This issue is increasingly important as 70+ million baby boomers continue to age. Fortunately, we are seeing more and more opportunities for older adults to remain intellectually active and engaged.

The Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco has funded over 100 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes throughout the US that provide university-based learning opportunities for retired individuals who want to learn for the fun of it.

The “Encore Career,” coined by Marc Freedman is another interesting take on engaging the intellectual power of retired Americans.  Freedman encourages retirees to take on a second career with a social service and social change purpose.  

UCLA Extension has two learning in retirement programs as well.

The PLATO Society features rigorous discussion groups, lead by members on topics as diverse as “Recent Supreme Court Cases,” “The Spanish Empire,” and “Obama’s Challenges: Foreign Policy” to name a few.

 The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCLA Extension features short format courses (1-4 sessions) lead by an instructor, for example: “Intermediate Geneology,” “Women who Misbehave,” and “The Budha and Christ.”


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