The secret fountain of youth: learning in later life

Learning in later life

It is only after having had children that I discovered the Palmers Green community. Now, when I go out each day, I always meet somebody I know either from the school, the nursery, the tennis club, the swimming pool, the park, or of course the Italian classes that I run in Palmers Green.

My Italian classes are designed for adults and take place either in the morning at 10 am or in the evening at 7.30 pm. Who chooses the morning class is usually somebody working from home, self-employed or, more and more frequently, retired.

People are choosing to learn a second language later in life and recent studies point to the benefits of such a decision: “even brief language courses could improve mental ability and ward off a decline in later life.[…]

So even when you are in your 60s or 70s, your brain responds” says Prof. Sorace who carried out a study on retired people.

This and other studies have discovered that learning a second language offers proven benefits for intelligence, memory, and concentration and lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Once it was thought that our IQ and brain’s abilities were set at birth and they would simply decline with age. It is now recognised that our brain possesses plasticity that enables it to change throughout life and it has the ability to reorganise itself by creating new connections between brain cells. In other words, the ability to learn continues in later life.

A number of my students know this and take advantage of my classes and my methodology to exercise their brain and keep it agile. I admire them and in some cases, they make up some of my best and most rewarding classes.

They are a very active part of our community. And just yesterday at the local supermarket I met one of my latest students, Doreen; she is 84 and doing well. If you had any doubt about joining a class because of your age, you are probably just a baby compared to her. Don’t wait any longer, discover the real fountain of youth and you will reap the benefits, even the ones that you didn’t expect.