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Should Senior Citizens Go Back To College To Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

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Senior citizens can potentially reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory deficient diseases by taking college classes. These college courses can help boost cognitive skills. Returning to school for older adults require a strong will to prosper, tuning out any family members or friends who doubt their success, and a fool proof plan that ensures prosperity. Success is secured when they make it their goal. Some questions the returning students should consider are: what type of setting best accommodates their learning needs? Do they like busyness of a crowded city or the peacefulness of rural areas? Where do they see yourself after getting your degree? What major are they interested in? How will the area of interest benefit them in the long run? When older adults think about going back to school, they tend to focus on associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from accredited universities. A study called the Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project observed 359 individuals between 50 and 79 years of age who completed a year’s worth or more of part-time or full-time college courses. After completion of the courses, participants were assessed annually with cognitive tests for the following three years. More than 90 percent of the participants displayed a significant increase in cognitive capacity. (Mills, 2015)

For many older adults, a retirement of taking cake of grandchildren, golfing and other leisurely activities such as relaxing on a beach at a tropical destination, sound obsolete. Modern older people of this generation approach work as a pedestal of a retirement lifestyle, planning for the future and adding skills to their tool belts of life prior to leaving their current jobs. People who have spent more time in school have a greater resilience against brain and memory disorders. Therefore, those with more cognitive reserve are not forced to rely on poorer formed connections which can According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will increase by nearly 80%, to 72 million. Up until now, colleges and universities have not even considered to cater to the needs of this population. A Merrill Lynch study orchestrated in association with Age Wave, a research firm concentrated on aging, discovered that nearly three of every five working retirees said retirement was another chance to pursue a different profession that may not have been attainable before retiring (Hannon, 2015). Rapidly advancing technology also demand that adults continue to stay ahead of computer, communications, employee development, healthcare, and organizational innovations.

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Older adults in addition to their regular scheduled life after retiring activities, decide to return to college as a way to keep themselves occupied during their free time as well as means of self-improvement. Unlike most 20-year old’s, adults over the age 50 are in no rush to get a degree within an allotted time. Retirees have the flexibility to take classes whenever they please; they do not have to worry about working or any other obligations (Stanger, 2015). The financial aspect of attending college is more feasible for older adults because they can dip into their savings. At many state universities and colleges, residents over the age of 60 can qualify for deducted tuitions if they meet set requirements by using tuition waivers to take for-credit courses. If courses for credit aren’t offered, older students might still be able to attend classes just to gain knowledge.

A research conducted in São Paulo, Brazil by Tiago Nascimiento Ordonez, Thaís Bento Lima-Silva, and Meire Cachioni explored the topic “Subjective and psychological well-being of students of a University of the Third Age: Benefits of continuing education for psychological adjustment in the elderly.” The objective in this research explained the degree of general contentment with life and degree of contentment regarding four different factors: health, physical capacity, mental capacity and social involvement, and to determine the characteristics of self-reports of individuals registered into a program well suited to their subject of interest concerning psychological health and focusing on the dimensions such as autonomy, personal growth, control, positive relationships with others, purpose, personal acceptance and generativity, and to study the impact of time considering the level of well-being. The method in the study took a group of 140 elderly students of a University for the Third Age. The Global Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Self Development Scale (with six psychological well-being subscales) were enforced. Different variables for the two groups were distinguished using the Mann-Whitney test. Spearman’s correlation coefficient was used to analyze the relationship among numeric variables. Internal consistency of the instrument scales was analyzed by calculating Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (Ordonez, Lima-Silva, and Cachioni, 2011). In conclusion, results demonstrated that students who were present at the University of the Third Age for at least six months had a higher level of contentment with life and a better psychological state in comparison to new enrollees at the same institution. The research results concluded the positive effects of returning to college and universities on the prosperity of retirees and its addition to successful aging.

There is always room for improvement, both mentally and physically. As humans, we are always looking to be our best selves, whether we are in our early twenties or late sixties. Older adults taking the initiative to go back to college to either finish what they started, further their education, or to go a different route with their lives is a remarkable idea. This also benefits younger students because they get to be in close contact with older people that have experienced different things in life.

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