LIFELONG LEARNING AND AGING WITH DIGNITY
Only an overall, Lifelong Learning can produce the kind of complete man the need for whom is increasing with the continually more stringent constraints tearing the individual asunder. We should no longer assiduously acquire knowledge once for all, but learn how to build up a continually evolving body of knowledge all through life. Learning can mobilise elderly as a resource to strengthen communities and families and to enhance the social cohesion. We live in a world in which isolation is no longer possible. We are living in a time of unprecedented mobility of people and intermingling of culture. We are all interdependent and share our inescapable responsibility for the well being of others. Man wants to remake himself and wants to become something and do something. These three dispositions have helped the various stages of development. Lifelong learning is as old as the human race itself. For the hunter and gatherer in ancient times, living by his or her wits was lifelong learning. You can call it “ Health club of Mind, body and spirit”. Lifelong learners are true testament of this fact. Medical researches now back this statement. Only an overall, lifelong learning can produce all this. Learning for self-enrichment and empowerment will lead to better individual and social/mental health. Lifelong learning is the process of maintaining an active and youthful mind, body and spirit as we age. This improves your intellectual, social, spiritual and physical horizon. How can anyone disagree with the need for people to continue their learning to enjoy personal fulfillment, economic development and also social development. A Chinese proverb says “At dusk do not say it is now too late; do say that there is sunshine all over the sky”
OLD AGE CAN BE CREATIVE OR SELF-DESTRUCTIVE IT IS YOUR CHOICE TO DECIDE. OLD AGE NEED NOT BE PAINFUL AND DEATH MAY NOT BE FRIGHTENING IT IS POSSIBLE TO LEARN IN THE DAYS OF RETIREMENT - Chinmayananda
The fast changing technology based economy needs flexibility to adjust to new demands. The increasing sophistication of modern societies demands constant updating of knowledge. The escalating knowledge makes a man “obsolete” unless they continuously update their knowledge. Learning cannot be constrained by age, time and space; it must take place in all settings and at any time. There is a growing recognition of the need to move towards lifelong learning specifically that focuses on informal or formal learning by elders. Every individual is a member of some kind of community and participates in learning with that community. Lifelong learning exists in three distinct forms - formal, non-formal and informal. Religious institutions, health institutions, business and industry human resource development programmes, libraries, museums, TV, Radio, newspapers and plethora of other agencies are examples of such providers.
HISTORY OF LIFELONG LEARNING
In the past century, the best options available to elders interested in Learning were either to return to school classrooms for a degree or attend some short duration courses, seminars or workshops on specific programmes. Finally, in the mid 20th century, educational philosophy began to change and Lifelong Learning for older people gained momentum. Programmes were organized to help enrich the lives of elders through variety of courses, travel adventures and community service options. Lifelong learning movement began in U.S.A in 1962 and France initiated it in 1972. Shortly thereafter, the International Association of Universities (IAUTA) was established with its head quarters in France. This idea quickly spread in other countries of Europe e.g. Britain; Belgium and Switzerland etc. Simultaneously it spread in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Japan and today China alone has more than 40000 centres for educating elders. To day globally we find lifelong learning centers in Universities, Colleges, Libraries, Churches and other public spaces.. Everyday the concept of Lifelong Learning is growing by leaps and bounds as people realize how much more their later life experiences will be with the added value of continued learning and adventure. People indulging in Lifelong Learning enjoy incredible amount of social activity and social interaction. It helps elders to live longer. It even adds years to life as well. Lifelong Learning’s core values of learning, exploring and serving, coupled with benefits for the mind, body and spirit, make it incredibly powerful tool for personal transformation and enhancement. Social activities are a very big component of Lifelong Learning participants
Potential areas of learning are management of mind and emotions, health, community and family, productive employment, self-enrichment.
MIND AND EMOTION
Our mind and emotions play an important part in determining our wellness. They are the internal factors that affect the proper flow of energy and control internal harmony. Mind and emotions have far reaching impact on our state of health. Yoga; Tai chi; qigong can train the mind to be in a mindless state. By cleaning the mind from thoughts and emotions, the body can reach a state of control so that the energies within it can control each other to achieve harmony and self-healing.
The doctor of future will give no medicines, but will interest his patients in the care of human frame. Let food be thy medicines and medicines be the food
The elders have to meet the challenges of the 21st century and learn to be compassionate, ethical and develop a new vision of world citizenship that is not confined to national boundaries. World’s great contemplative traditions encompass a shared vision on moral and ethical virtues as well as the vast array of specific technologies. Including different forms of meditations and reflective practices, these practices promote better emotional regulation, improved attention, increased calm, better stress management and coping skills and deliberate cultivation of qualities such as compassion and empathy. There are four dimensions of learning - Body maintenance; mental development; Intellectual development and Emotional development. The modern education, somehow, does not stress on Mental and Emotional development.
All contact born happiness is productive of misery.
HEALTH - LEARNING FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH
Advancing age is associated with an increasing prevalence of number of diseases and other health problems Loneliness and a sense of lack of purpose can lead to mental illness as well as physical health problems. Programmes of information and education can change the elder’s knowledge, attitudes and action to help ensure a healthy and productive old age. Regular and appropriate health check ups are needed for detecting illness at an early stage. Diets specially low fat, low salt are helpful in reducing dangers from heart and cancer. Senior health care and information related ageing services are seeing an evolution towards personalized medicines and more emphasis on preventive system. Older people use traditional and alternative medicines to a surprising degree. Likewise there is sharp increase in the consumption of health supplements and health foods.
Next to informal caregivers, the demand of paid caregivers i.e. paraprofessional caregivers is rising at a fast rate. They are most essential component in helping older persons especially with disabilities or suffering from chronic ailments, to maintain some level of functions and quality of life.
The para-professional long term care work force- nursing assistants, home health care aides, personal care givers and assistants form centerpiece of formal long term care system.. These frontline workers provide hands-on care, supervision and emotional support to millions of elderly having chronic illness and disabilities.
The severe shortage of nursing assistants, home health and home care aides and other paraprofessional workers is the primary trend influencing the current wave of concern about the long term care work force. The future availability of these frontline workers does not look promising. Long-term care encompasses the broad range of types of help with daily activities that chronically ill and disabled elderly need for a prolonged period of time.
Several low-tech services have been designed to minimize, rehabilitate or compensate for loss of independent physical or mental functioning and provide assistance for bathing, dressing, eating and personal care. Several instruments can also support in household chores such as meal preparation and cleaning etc. Home and community-based care is a catch all phrase that refers to a wide variety of non-institutional long term care settings ranging from various types of congregate living arrangements to individual’s own home. Community based settings include adult day care in which disabled elderly receive supervision, personal care, social integration and companionship in a group settings.
Main positive aspects of lifelong learning affect are Mind Body and Spirit. Prior to 90’s scientists thought that getting older was automatically accompanied by a mental decline in our brain functions. Now the recent researches indicate that it is entirely possible to grow new brain cells at any age provided we undertake enriching and Learning activities. Brain requires environmental enrichment at all ages. Life long learning can explore whatever you want. Your thoughts, beliefs and personal philosophies might expand so much that you find yourself on brand new journey of self discovery. You might also discover your new talents and the increased self-esteem gained from the discovery would be priceless. By stimulating your brain with life long learning you enjoy other physiological benefits as well
After fifty the society expects elders to slow down and let life continue without their active participation, Rather than dread getting older, people might actually look forward to this golden period when they can set off for adventure and exploring the amazing universe around us all.
The productive activity paid or voluntary is, normally, associated with increased physical and mental health. Lack of engagement or unemployment increases psychological distress.. Voluntary engagement or social work can play an important role in maintaining a good health in later life. Latest researches have revealed that volunteers have lower risk of dying than non-volunteers. Social isolation, on the other hand, is linked to increased risk of depression. When comparing the social, productive and physical fitness activity on mortality, all three activities positively effected survival, with social and productive engagement having just as much effect as physical fitness activities.
Productive activity is any activity that produces goods or services, whether paid for or not and it includes activities like volunteering, working or care giving They benefit the individual as well as the society. Future generation will seek even more engagements in these meaningful roles.
Whether in a joint family or nuclear, the elders generally have a rough time. Sometimes they are looked down and family members may treat them as an increased burden and quite often elders feel small and unwelcome. In joint or nuclear family neither kids nor their parents have time or space to cope up with the morale or physical well being of elders. They are treated, quite frequently as though they have outlived their use. Clearly there are shades and shades of the problem. And sadly enough, it has permeated into educated as well as not so enlightened homes in varying degrees.
Learning opportunities provided to elders can cover training in developmental child care, developing community activities for elderly handicapped or chronically ill patients, supporting young families in trouble and even acting in the political arena It helps elderly to increasingly remain in the work force, as a means of reducing poverty, increasing economic growth and giving a stronger sense of self value to themselves..
They can also opt for productive areas like child care, adult care, school assistance guards for security and opportunities in shops, libraries etc.
TECHNOLOGY IN LEARNING
The impact of new computing and communication technologies on modern life has been drastic. Though predominant paradigm in education/ learning, is still the lecture/tutorial model i.e. learner and instructor interaction, in future much learning will take place collaboratively on line, majority of interaction being learner-learner oriented. By on line we mean that most learners are geographically isolated, studying perhaps from home, but with full access to all of the necessities via their internet connections. Lectures and notes submission will be electronic and interaction will be either synchronous (in chat room or video conferencing) or it may be asynchronous (via e-mails or discussion list).
By collaborative we mean that despite different locations, learners will conduct most of their learning by groups. Such groups are likely to be virtual i.e. the members may not be present and meet face to face. However, in all other aspects they are like real and group member will be highly reliant on others in the group for the quality of their learning. Depending upon circumstances such groups may be formal or informal, small or large, homogeneous or heterogeneous. Most learning takes place via group interaction, the instructor normally acts as facilitator instead of active deliverer of knowledge. By learning we mean that in group learning environment, less emphasis is likely to be placed on memorization and cramming for examinations and more on world abilities such as communications, problem solving and articulation of solutions. This is inline with real life users
Online collaborative learning is also referred to as computer supported collaborative learning or CSCL. As we begin to realize the enormous potential for new forms of learning provided by new technologies, it can be expected that interests in this field will expand dramatically in next few years. In the area of online collaborative learning, experts can come from variety of fields.
SELF ENRICHMENT AND ENLIGHTENED
It is the act or process of developing or augmenting one’s intellectual powers or spiritual resources or even enriching one-self financially.
Our ancestors of yore gave deep thought to the problems man faces in life. Problems come to us in different ways and give us sorrow and we try continuously make efforts to find solutions to get rid of them. We solve one and a new one steps in. At times we do not have the glimpse of joy amidst the problem and sorrow but it is blurred and short lived because of being surrounded by and overshadowed by many problems. Sorrow is the lot of even those who consider themselves successful and happy in life. Our ancestors could come to conclusions that problems of mankind fall into two categories. One is the materialistic problem the solution of which can be found on the materialistic plane. However these solutions are short lived. The second types of problems are spiritual in nature and their solutions are lasting and permanent. The ultimate aim of every living being is to achieve joy and happiness and that too should be permanent and in full measure. Most of us being extrovert search this joy in the outside world. The external world has no joy content. Joy and Bliss is our true nature and it is our birthright to achieve it. Thus being ignorant of our true self is the root cause of our problems. We must learn how to attain it. There is a need for self-actualization. Learning about our scriptures can definitely enlighten us and it is strongly recommended in our culture and tradition. It will certainly enlighten us and help in realizing Self, enriching Self to bring real peace and joy. Study of spirituality and religion is indeed the best learning for human beings and most recommended learning in our scriptures for this part of life. Spirituality is a philosophy dealing with spirit and religion is the applied aspect of to be professed by those who follow that religion. The philosophy being one but religions may differ according to the prophet preaching it. This beautiful world around has been a mystery for millenniums, from the cave man to the modern man.
For elders, it is the Golden period to learn and realize Self and thereby enlighten themselves and attain peace and happiness.
LIFE IS LIMITED BUT STUDY IS LIMITLESS