San Diego County is a culturally diverse tourist destination rich with educational institutions. Older adults account for 11 percent of San Diego’s total population and is expected to increase significantly over the next two decades. Partners for Livable Communities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging conducted a workshop in San Diego County to discuss the impact of lifelong learning opportunities on healthy aging for older adults.
The report provides an in-depth discussion of lifelong learning strategies that foster aging in place, the benefits felt by older adults and the community as a whole from enhancing lifelong learning, and the obstacles preventing older adults from connecting to lifelong learning opportunities. Older adults report seeking lifelong learning opportunities for two main reasons: 1) for the joy of learning something new or to find intellectual stimulation in a social setting, and 2) to gain new knowledge and acquire new skills to stay ahead in the workforce or transition to a new career field. “Accessible and meaningful lifelong learning activities produce a pool of talented, educated and engaged older adults who will inspire younger generations and make positive contributions to local businesses, nonprofits, schools and community organizations.”
Examples of initiatives in place to foster lifelong learning include:
- San Diego’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) challenges older adults to employ their talents and knowledge to make meaningful contributions to their community by helping local organizations. This program is successful because it creates an opportunity for older adults to interact with other generations and acquire further knowledge while giving back to their community.
- The San Diego Community College District offers a Continuing Education Institution where older adults are able to take free, non-credit classes including art appreciation, effective communication, current events, nutrition, computer skills, etc.
How to Use
Planners, local officials, and community leaders can use this report to gain an understanding of the importance of lifelong learning for healthy aging of older adults. Local officials, senior service providers, and community organizations need to coordinate planning efforts to ensure lifelong learning opportunities are accessible to all older adults regardless of income or ability level.