Learning in Later Life: The Perspective of Successful Ageing

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Abstract

The integrated approach to the development of educational theory of later life learning should be informed by comprehensive knowledge of ageing as a social construct. Establishment of the role of later life learning in the context of successful ageing paradigm encompasses both sociological and educational perspectives taking into consideration the complexity of older people’s engagement in society and participation in education with regard to social use for the learning outcomes and personal growth. In the context of successful ageing, it should provide the answers to the questions related to the meaning and role of learning in later life. The present research aims to explore the role of learning in the construct of successful ageing and to analyze the characteristic features of non-formal later life learning in Lithuania in the perspective of successful ageing based on the review some recent literature on psychological and social aspects of successful ageing and older adult education and research in the fields of educational and psychosocial gerontology. It pursues answers to the questions as to “How can learning in later life contribute to successful ageing? What are the implications for the role of learning in the models of successful ageing? How is the role of third-age learning conceptualized in the perspective of successful ageing?” The answers to these questions provide better insight into the conceptual background of older adult education and suggests prospective research on the issue of the role of learning in older age. The multidimensional nature of the concept of successful ageing revealed by the literature review suggests that the role of learning in the construct of successful ageing is analyzable in relationship with health, psychological and social domains. The role of learning in later life is manifested through its impact on maintenance of cognitive function, psychological resources and social functioning. The positive impact of learning in later life on mental health through maintenance of cognitive function and the utilization of psychological resources through stimulation of personal growth and self-efficacy of older adult learners has been supported by findings of many recent studies. Education has been identified as one of the predictors of active engagement with life as an essential component of successful ageing.

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