Older Adults in Lifelong Learning: Participation and Successful Aging
This article examines the relationship between the participation of older adult learners in educational activities and successful aging. In partnership with seniors’ organizations, focus-group interviews were conducted on seniors’ involvement in learning and their perceptions of its influence on successful aging. Successful aging is defined in terms of health, life satisfaction and happiness, and physical and cognitive functioning (Menec, 2003). The study was exploratory, but the results suggest that participation in educational activities has positive effects on successful aging and potentially contributes to both physical and psychological well-being. Connections are also made to activity-theory studies (Menec, 2003), lifespan theory (Baltes, 1997; Heckhausen & Schulz, 1995), and adult education studies on older adults (AARP Survey on Lifelong Learning, 2000; Thompson & Foth, 2002; Withnall, 2002). The authors conclude by suggesting a framework for thinking about older adults’ participation in learning activities and successful aging.