Lifelong learning involves being intentional about learning new things, no matter how old you are. – Melissa Batchelor, PhD, R.N., FNP-BC, FGSA, FAAN
Learning throughout one’s life encourages social inclusion and improves one’s health.
There’s a substantial correlation between learning and improved health, especially among older adults. The notion of life-long learning encompasses not only the acquisition of job-related credentials but also the promotion of learning throughout one’s life to improve overall well-being.
While 73% of older adults in the United States of America consider themselves lifelong learners, educational engagement tends to decline as people become older. Still, it’s never too late to gain new skills and information. This presents a challenge to organizations, employers, and policymakers, who must guarantee that everyone has the opportunity to obtain, retain, and acquire new skills throughout their lives.
Toward these goals, This Is Getting Old, with our mission to move toward an age-friendly world, features Part 7:Lifelong Learning of the 10-part AARP/ Age-Friendly Social Innovation Challenge.
Watch the full episode or listen to the podcast to learn more about valuable programs and innovative solutions specifically designed for older adults and healthcare providers.
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️Does Julio’s Case Sounds Familiar?
Julio is 55 years old and lives in Hyattsville, MD, with his wife, three children and dog, Fluffy. He has worked as a hospice nurse for nine years now and loves his work. But, Julio feels stuck and burned out. The pay isn’t great, and he has to work about 70 hours a week to make ends meet. Julio would love to see fewer patients and learn to be a manager. Still, sometimes he thinks he would have better chances in IT. So, Julio thinks of leaving healthcare altogether and enrolling in a technical community college.
✔️Lifelong Learning – Problem Statement
Julio needs a way to increase income and job satisfaction and find a life-work balance because he’s burned out and unhappy. This problem results from the employer’s lack of attention, support and employee development programs designed to help care workers thrive and grow within the healthcare industry.
✔️Lifelong Learning – Innovative Solutions
- Identify nonprofit or public resources that can provide low-cost or free career counseling or training services for mid-career workers or the 55+ cohort, including how to advocate with employers. If recommended and feasible, continuing education may be undertaken.
- Encourage Julio’s employer to create pathways within the organization for upward mobility, including training, mentoring, job exploration, and higher pay. This might occur through partnerships with local community colleges, for example.
- Research concept of unionizing, organizing workers in the caregiver industry to achieve fairer working conditions (higher pay, fewer hours, meaningful support on the job, opportunity for promotion).
✔️ Nobody’s Too Old To Learn
Lifelong Learning involves being intentional about learning new things – no matter how old you are. Essentially, participation in cultural and recreational activities is essential for our health and the quality of life in our communities as we age. Thus, older adults should increasingly participate in lifelong learning programs and bring a lifetime of experiences to intergenerational programs – like ice skating! Besides, there’s nothing wrong with learning a new physical skill and an intellectual one! Both types of lifelong learning are beneficial!
✔️More Ways To Help Julio
The challenges that Julio faces could potentially be made better if he worked for an Age-Friendly Employer – and if you haven’t heard of that program, you can check out episode 58 with Tim Driver, Founder and CEO of Age-Friendly Ventures.
Another option for retooling could be finding an Age-Friendly University, and if you haven’t heard of this initiative, please check out my interview with Dr Joanne Montepare in Episode 55.
You may also have another idea for a solution – or know of a program that would help older adults and their families facing similar challenges. Please add your comments below.
We’d love to hear from you!
If you have questions, comments, or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.
I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.
Find out more about her work HERE.