Learning at an Older Age


Learning at an older age is universally accepted to result from the challenges that older people face with the ongoing trends in the current generation. As a result, with the help of relevant literature review and the use of questionnaires as data collection techniques, this research aims at defining several aspects that establish the reasons why older generation choose to learn at that age and some of the challenges that they incur in the process. The research also tries to find the validity of the ideas provided by the literature reviews and affirm the conclusions provided. Some of the questions that the research aims to answer include the ways, in which the learning process could be made difficult for older people in society. The research will conclude with stating some suggestions on the current research topic and some of the ways, in which the current situation could be improved. The research will conclude by the restatement of the thesis statement and personal opinion on the research topic.

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Older people in society tend to face numerous situations that can be both positive and negative for them. In some cases, some senior people in similar situations are treated differently by other members of society. In this case, giving different treatment to people based on their age is what universally acknowledged as ageism. Ageism in any society cannot pre-evaluated as it depends on the nature of belief that certain society or a group of people hold concerning the older members of society. Therefore, learning at an older age is an example of a societal issue that could be used to investigate the aspect of ageism.

Problem Statement

In recent times, people began according great importance to learning or education. Additionally, this perspective has seen older members of society become highly interested in learning. For this purpose, many people 50 years of age and older began enrolling for studies. In other cases, older people, who had left school a few years ago, continued their studies to advance their level of education. Although the numbers have not proved to be very high, they have been witnessed to increase over time. Thus, due to this increase, the issue of learning in later life has grabbed the focus of a reasonable part of the world. The main purpose of the concern is to find out what drives older people to be interested in learning and the challenges they could face as well as the measures that could make their learning time easier.

In the research paper, several issues regarding learning in later age will be discussed. Some of the issues that will be looked at during this research involve the greatest drives of the elderly people to engage in learning. Identifying these drives help to realize the reasons behind the increasing interest among the older people in education. It will additionally look at the possible challenges that these people face in their learning journey and what could be done to make more senior population people want to engage in learning activities. However, all these processes of the research will be aimed at identifying how the learning of senior people could be made better. It is important to engage in this kind of study to find the ways of making the senior members engaging in education more comfortable as well as to enable their performance to improve.

Literature Review

Learning in later ages of one’s life is not a new issue for any society. As a result, there have been previous assumptions and researches as well as statements on the issue. These materials and idea creations have provided a base of thought on the idea of what assist individuals in evaluating the learning of senior society members. Various writers and researchers have put forward different speculations on later life learning. This research paper, beside using collected information for evaluation, will also consider a number of previously presented works on the topic to make the issue of later learning clearer.

In their 2008 article “Learning in Later Life: What Seniors Want in a Learning Experience?”, Deborah Duay and Valerie Bryan have made a great speculation on the topic by presenting three major aspects that act as great determinants on the learning in later lives. The article presented such three aspects as involving some effective learning experiences, having great learning instructors, and finally, presenting topics that are interesting or familiar to people. In the authors’ argument, these aspects determine the level of attraction to learning as well as that of engagement in the learning process. When exploited well, they are said to give excellent results in the level of participation as well as understanding the learning audience.

Another look at the problem is Robert Chen’s article that revolves around some of the reasons why older people experience difficulties in learning. The author presents some of the aspects that lead to a hard time that older people experience in learning. In the article, different causes of hardship in senior learning are presented to enable a reader to understand the cases of older people not being fast learners. In addition, Chen offers the explanation to why older people tend to be less interested in learning new things, but instead, they prefer to keep learning the old ones, or in some situations, they engage in learning that increases their current understanding of topics.

The research “Learning in Later Life: Motivation and Impact” by Dench and Regan uncover the aspects that promote the urge to engage in older learning. In addition, their research gives the idea of several impacts that come along as a result of engaging in later life learning. These contributions give an overview and a number of statements on the issue of later learning that give a broader understanding of the context of the problem.

Dr. Fiona McPherson on the other hand offers the readers to see the difficulties people face in learning as they get older. This article informs about the general hardships that older learners come across in their learning process as well as helps students to understand these difficulties. At the same time, Findsen additionally contributes to the issue by stating some of the things that older learners want in their learning process. Findsen generally provides a solution to the challenges that older learners face and how their tutors can help them overcome these problems.

Effective learning experiences were stated as those that tend to make learners to remember the learning subject or processes more clearly in a later time or day. Duay and Bryan argue that some of the effective learning experiences that could increase the level of participation of older people include engaging them in asking questions and discussing the ideas that they present during learning, as well as practicing new skills instead of just stating them. Furthermore, the interaction was stated to give learners the opportunity to discuss points and ideas which they said helps to get involved in the process and increase levels of understanding and remembrance. The observation was also presented as other effective learning experiences that enabled higher chances of remembering.

Instructors were additionally revealed to be key determinants of the effectiveness of the adult learning process. Instructors in the article were said to be found as more important aspects of learning than the learning topic itself. Thus, Glass Jr. in his article reveals that the persons presenting the material are important as they make the learning experience interesting and not necessarily the topic of learning. Additionally, a learning instructor, who is knowledgeable as well as enthusiastic, makes a better learning experience as they make clear, logical, and organized presentations. Such presentations yield the best learning outcomes.

Although the learning experience and a good instructor are improtant, the learning material as well contributes to the learning outcome. In a situation where the learning audience was familiar with the topic of learning, it was revealed to be more interesting and capturing than a completely new topic. Many learners were indicated to be more interested in expanding their current existing interests as well as skills. They further asserted that they would not love to engage in learning something that was completely new as it would pose a greater challenge than that of which they would at least have an idea. Many older learners implied clearly that they were not interested in learning new things as they are interested in expanding the knowledge that they already had. In choosing topics that they could be interested in learning, they revealed that they would only want to keep studying subjects that they had learned in their earlier ages than to be taught new languages.

Another aspect that determines the rate at which older people learn is their attitude. When an individual possesses a positive attitude towards learning, they definitely will have a good time engaging in learning unlike when they are not positively tuned into the learning processes. When a senior learner, for instance, does not like a topic that is being taught, they will definitely find it difficult to set their mind to the learning environment, which will makes their rate of understanding low. Therefore, a negative attitude is likely to come into the way of a good learning performance in the learning process.

In his article on the rate of learning of older people, Robert Chen revealed that older people had more difficulty learning new topics than their younger counterparts. He stated that it was difficult to teach old people something new and said that older people tended to have a difficult time learning for several reasons. He revealed that many older people experienced learning difficulties because they tended to believe that they were just too old for the task. Others had difficulties because they made conscious decisions that they stopped learning time ago, which made their minds not tuned to learning. Another aspect that posed a learning challenge for the old people was that thought think that they had explored enough and therefore, they did not see much reason to learn. Additionally, older people may not get the push to learn as there is no one looking or paying attention to them, which works to reduce their level of motivation.

Failure to be accorded much attention by their instructors tends to discourage older people in their learning process. When a learner does not receive much supervision as well as strictness from their learning instructor, they are most likely to be less motivated in their learning process. Instructors, conducting the learning programs of older people, tend to be easy on them and, in some cases, ignorant of them. Low levels of strictness tend to reduce the level of motivation of old age learners. Ignorance, on the other hand, reduces their encouragement level, which additionally tends to reduce their concentration and level of understanding concepts of the learners.

Advantages of Learning in Later Life

Besides the challenges that are associated with learning in later life, there are a number of advantages that come along with this process. The South African College of Applied Psychology presents the idea that learning in later life acts as a way of reinvigorating one’s career and life as well.  People, who study in their older age, notice that not only does it lead to increased level of knowledge but it also boosts their overall wellbeing. Studying at a later age in life brings along a number of benefits with them. However, an individual needs to focus on the benefits in order to pay more attention to learning.

Learning at a later age in life acts as an advancement in one’s career life. Thus, advancing the educational background of an individual leads to an increase in the career level of a person. Consequently, this improves one’s knowledge in a certain field, which gives a chance to advance the skills. When an individual furthers their education, it gives them a career boost and improved job confidence. When one has their job confidence increased, it enables them to be more demanded on their job market than before. Therefore, later learning in a person’s life leads to the rise of the job market value of an individual.

Furthermore, senior learning leads to increased mental aptitude. Scientific findings have presented the thinking that a person’s brain capacity tends to decrease as they grow older. Learning in an older age gives a person the chance to keep their brain active, which helps to keep it in a working state. thus preventing it from deteriorating (Nordstrom, n.d.). Keeping the brain in an active state helps to exercise it, and this improves the brain at any age as well. Even reading helps one literally keep mentally fit, which helps to maintain the brain capacity.

Learning in an older age gives a person the opportunity to change their options. One is given the chance to pursue a passion that has been held for a long time and achieve their dreams that otherwise might seem to have been abandoned. If a person is given a chance to follow their dreams and passions, they become much more useful members of society. In the long term, people being of use to their society only improve it. Engaging in senior learning additionally improves a person’s social life as one is able to meet different people who have diverse ideas and thoughts.

Research Study

In the topic about senior learning, this research aims at establishing several aspects that give a better understanding it. The research also tries to establish the validity of the ideas provided by the literature reviews and affirm the conclusions provided. Some of the questions that the research aims to answer include the ways, in which the learning process could be made difficult for older people. It aims to establish some ways that could improve the situation of learning in senior years of a person. In addition, the research tries to find out the ways, in which the learners feel positive or negative about the learning process.

Research Methodology and Data Collection

Methods that were used to collect information for the research study involved observation and a one-on-one interview. The observation was mainly made during the class sessions to point out classes, in which each member was participative. It was also used to identify those who contributed in certain topics and their connection to them. Interviews were done with the learners during their free time to obtain the necessary information.

Data was collected by sampling a total of 20 elderly learners for the processes of observation and interview. The respondents of the research process were observed for a period of two weeks on the days of class sessions. The information they provided was recorded separately under their names for pending analysis. Response from each day’s observation and interview after the class session were also recorded separately to evaluate them according to the topic that had been discussed in the class.

Findings and Data Analysis

From the sample learners chosen for the research, it was revealed that elderly learners were generally genuine learners who knew why they studied. It has been revealed by the sampled learners that elderly learning is the most organized learning session anyone can ever come across. They have explained it by the fact that no one forces them to get to a learning program, and therefore, they are fully committed to it when they get into one. There was a total positive response to the assumption that the senior were good learners.

A half of the learners revealed that they liked to learn about things that they have had come across in the past. They said that they did not like to engage in learning new topics that they had never come across before. This confirmed the statement that older learners did not like to engage in new learning experiences. The research also revealed that 75% of elderly learners liked to choose their tutors and instructors personally so that they work with those they liked and those who can handle them.

Sampled learners additionally revealed that senior students did not like being pushed too much but they liked to work in places that they participated in controlling. More than 50% of the sampled learners had found it advantageous to engage in the learning processes. At the same time, 80% of them revealed that they had faced a number of challenges such as finding it hard to understand concepts. Furthermore, 100% of them said that they had found learning at that age a big advantage as they could get promotions at work and more importantly, they could keep their minds in check, remaining active and additionally productive.


In concluding the research process, it is evident that learning in later age has a number of challenges, but the benefits that the learners get are greater than the challenges. It means that elderly students find it more interesting to learn topics that they have come across in the past and they do not like to engage in absolutely new concepts. Some older learners, who plan to enroll in a program, could learn from the research findings by identifying the challenges that face them as well as realize the possible problems that they could face in the process, which would enable them to be ready to deal with them successfully.

Instructors, who deal with older students, could benefit from this research by learning the best ways that elderly learners prefer to be coached in their studies. The tutors will additionally benefit by identifying the challenges that the learners face and try to deal with them as well. When later life learners have instructors who understand them well, they are likely to have the most humble time in their learning, which only makes their learning process easier. In addition, this research offers tutors some of the most effective teaching processes for their learners.

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