Older Adults’ Participation in Education and Successful Aging: Implications for University Continuing Education in Canada

Atlanta Sloane-Seale, Bill Kops


Representatives from Manitoba seniors’ organizations and the University of Manitoba collaborated on a proposal to examine the participation of older adults in learning activities. The initiative led to a series of studies
on this theme, including an exploration of participation at a seniors’ centre (Sloane-Seale & Kops, 2004), a comparison of participants and non-participants at three selected urban seniors’ centres (Sloane-Seale & Kops, 2007), and an analysis of participation at several urban and rural seniors’ centres, as well as participants’ perceptions of the characteristics of successful aging (Sloane-Seale & Kops, 2008). Building on these previous studies, the study described in this article examined the participation of older adults in Manitoba and how it links to successful aging. Key statistics relating to older adults’ participation, types of educational activities, learning in later life, and characteristics of successful aging were collected. The results suggest that such participation leads to a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of successful aging; that educational activities positively influence mental and physical activity, which in turn result in more positive health and well- being; and that spirituality and life planning, including a positive sense of self, a focus on personal renewal and growth, a connection to the broader community, and setting life goals, contribute to successful aging. In light of Canada’s aging population, these findings have implications for educational gerontology, lifelong learning, and continuing education practice and research.

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