Continued learning associated with higher levels of wellbeing in older adults

  Engaging in learning activities may improve your quality of life.

Question

What is the relationship between continued learning activities and psychological wellbeing?

What was done?

Participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing were asked whether they were involved in obtaining qualifications; attendance at formal education/training courses; membership of education, music or arts groups or evening classes; membership of sports clubs, gym and exercise classes. A number of psychological variables were also measured, e.g. wellbeing.

What was found?

Learning was associated with higher wellbeing.

How does this affect me?

Engaging in learning activities may increase your wellbeing.

Article Abstract

There is growing interest in factors which can contribute to the wellbeing of older adults. Participation in learning could have beneficial effects, but to date research on the benefits of learning has tended to focus on young people or those in mid-life and there is currently little evidence on the impact of learning on the wellbeing of older adults. In this paper we provide new, quantitative evidence on the relationship between participation in learning and the wellbeing of older adults. Our study used data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a continuing, longitudinal survey of older adults. To measure wellbeing we used the CASP-19 instrument, a subjective wellbeing measure which is available at all waves of the ELSA survey. Respondents were asked about four types of learning activity: obtaining qualifications; attendance at formal education/training courses; membership of education, music or arts groups or evening classes; membership of sports clubs, gym and exercise classes. To take account of unobservable factors which might influence wellbeing, we applied fixed effects panel regressions to four waves of ELSA data. Learning was associated with higher wellbeing after controlling for a range of other factors. We found evidence that more informal types of learning were associated with higher wellbeing. There was no evidence that formal education/training courses were associated with higher wellbeing.

Link to full article.

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