Lifelong Learning = Positive Experiences

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.” John Adams, President of the United States.

While I would never describe an “old mind” as an “old horse,” I think we all understand what President Adams had in mind when he made this statement. Gutenberg certainly got it when he put all the pieces together to create a printing press in the 1400s. Historians tell us that Gutenberg wasn’t just a businessman focused on making money. He knew and understood the impact that literacy would have on the world.

Six million persons are living with dementia in the United States. By 2030 that number will increase three-fold. The question that challenges us every day is, “how do we use our imagination and curiosity to inspire and stimulate their minds?

”We have been studying, researching, and experimenting to find the answers for the past five years. As a former teacher, I knew what it looks like when a student “gets it.” The lightbulb goes off; they are very proud of themselves and often want to celebrate their accomplishment. Our focus has been to define the ideas and concepts that help us understand how to open “doors to connections” for persons living with dementia. Here are a few things we have discovered:

  • People are familiar with and comfortable with the concept of learning.
  • All people, regardless of their cognitive state, prefer to be engaged and treated like adults.
  • Learning for people with dementia is about having a positive experience, not remembering facts and figures. It is about feeling valued, loved, and connected.
  • Immersion based learning, using Lifelong Learning topics, poetry, and music, and creative & expressive sessions enable every attendee to experience multiple things that have meaning to them.
  • Learning is the one single idea that can easily involve family members of all ages.
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