To some, the term life long learning might just seem like a buzz word, something people say in a job interview, or just a descriptor for someone who likes to read. However, life long learning is an important practice that can strengthen one’s health and keep people connected.
Usually when one thinks of a university, they think of mostly students with in the ages of 18-21, bright eyed and bushy tailed, who have not yet entered the full on adult world, ready to learn and figure out what their career path will be. However, more recently, colleges and universities have been realizing that their programs can expand past the traditional undergraduate and graduate programs, and become institutions for people of all ages. This is how Osher Life Long Learning Institutes such as BOLLI came about.
My great grandfather was definitely someone who I would see joining BOLLI or a similar program if there was one near him when he was alive. He was definitely a life long learner, and a story I always enjoyed hearing from my grandmother is about how he was taking classes as his local community college for fun, and since he was no longer able to drive he would basically hitch hike and get his younger more traditional college age classmates to drive him to class.
Life long learning is a very beneficial practice for one’s overall well being and health. One of the first studies that was done that provided visual concrete evidence of this was done by two neurobiologists at U.C Irvine, Lulu Chen and Christine Gall, “found that everyday forms of learning animate neuron receptors that help keep brain cells functioning at optimum levels” (UCI News, 2010). Life long learning really does exercise your brain and can help with a variety of brain functioning as one ages.
While life long learning can be done more casually, it is also great in a more formal setting such as at programs like BOLLI, that not only allow one to take courses, it also allows one to be part of a community and meet others, which is especially important in a time like today where people have felt more isolated than ever due to social distancing and just the complete changes of our life. Life long learning institutes are an amazing community for people to better their health and wellness in numerous fronts.