Every time I’m out in the classrooms or reading student evaluations, I’m struck by how meaningful our classes are for our students – particularly those who are retired. I hear and read from so many that their classes are keeping them young. To quantify what I’m seeing, I turned to the local experts in the field of positive aging at The Institute for the Ages. They graciously agreed to write a guest blog on the topic. Fascinating stuff – I hope you enjoy it as much as I.
Laura Kelley Trubac, MPA
Program Manager, SCTI
Adult & Community Enrichment
Sarasota County Schools
Insights on Aging
A recent local study by SCOPE and USF, and sponsored by the Patterson Foundation, found that older adults overwhelmingly felt that meaningful engagement, such as lifelong learning programs, volunteerism, and community involvement enhanced their dignity and independence. Research also indicates that more than ever before, a challenged, stimulated brain may well be the key to a vibrant later life. Add to that the expansion of a person’s circle of friends – a key measure of social well-being - and there is quite a case for older adults seeking out meaningful engagement. Combined, the evidence suggests that older adults who pursue meaningful engagement stimulate their brains, heighten physical activity, and maintain healthy social relationships which may help stave off mental and physical ailments and diseases.
Based on large scale longitudinal survey data in the U.K., there is ample evidence for claims that meaningful engagement has a measurable impact on people’s lives – and more than on just personal health. The study looked at the economic impact, the impact on individual well-being, and the impact on the wider community and found both direct and indirect benefits.
There is reason to believe that based on the density of older adults in Sarasota County – 31% of residents are 65+ - meaningful engagement may contribute significantly to our community on the whole. Keep learning, giving and contributing and you will get more than you think.
Tom Esselman, President and CEO
The Institute for the Ages
The Institute for the Ages, a not-for-profit supported by Sarasota County, community and family foundations and individuals, is devoted to building relationships with senior residents who will provide input to catalyze innovations for positive aging. By offering the collective voice of thousands of older residents as an invaluable research tool, the Institute attracts outside sources of funded research and development, new-business development and employment opportunities related to aging.