What is so fascinating and fun about Rosie the Riveter? Her nails were painted bright red, and her hair was tucked underneath a colorful scarf. Her image became an iconic representation of women in the workforce. Did you think Rosie had any secrets to her success? You bet she did.
Rosie is what lifelong learning is all about. Rosie wasn’t afraid to learn new things; she didn’t talk herself out of applying for a job at an aircraft or shipbuilding plant. Instead, she rolled up her sleeves and showed up for work. And when she returned home after a long shift, she took care of children, cultivated a “victory garden,” and managed her household.
Learning for people living with dementia is no longer about memorizing facts or historical events. It is about seeing Rosie the Riveter’s image and joining a robust discussion about what everyone in the class did during World War II. It is about having positive experiences and feeling valued, loved, and connected when the class ends.
Lifelong learning classes are an adult experience. Just the class title tells participants that they are going to learn something or recall something that happened in their life.
What are the benefits of participation in a lifelong learning program for people of all ages and stages of life?
- Social validation; discussing past experiences lends validation to their life experiences.
- Social inclusion; connecting with others is an important part of feeling valued.
- They learn to question and probe when their curiosity is sparked.
- Take risks; trying new things is good for our brain.
- Having patience and self-compassion empowers them to help others.
Assisting senior adults to get on the path of lifelong learning ensures that they will live life fully, well, and wisely, which is truly what lifelong learning is all about. And it is a great way for them to tell their stories!