Making the case for lifelong learning: Fred Butler, high school graduate, age 106. Butler’s story was featured on NBC’s The Today Show this week, and though it’s tremendously inspiring all on its own, it also affirms why providing opportunities to learn in senior living is essential.
Part of the reason that Butler pursued the completion of his degree, which had been left untouched for 90 years after dropping out of school to support his mother and siblings, was grief. His wife died last September, and according to the article, “Butler was devastated.” Family and friends said he “lost a bit of the spark he had in him.”
Many residents in assisted living, retirement communities and elsewhere are dealing with grief as Butler is. Besides dealing with the loss of loved ones, many are mourning their loss of independence or the physical losses of vision, hearing, memory and mobility — all of which impact their daily lives.
Personal enrichment and intellectual engagement opportunities are a wonderful means for filling those gaps, and lifelong learning programs are nearly always met with great success as a result. And we’re not talking about hours of sitting in class and cramming for tests; we’re talking about the fun stuff in education, learning about the things we’re interested in just because we want to.