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Everyday learning through activity is essential for seniors, research says

Older adults often encounter several life transitions or major health events that can result in serious physical changes. New research from Texas A&M University shows that everyday learning through physical activity is essential for older adults dealing with physical health changes. 

Elizabeth Roumell, adult learning and identity development scholar in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, has conducted research in this area with Bora Jin, a recent doctoral graduate from Texas A&M.

In her research, Roumell explains how health-related issues experienced in older adulthood hold a central place in a person’s everyday experience. 

She explains how older adults need to become more attentive to the condition of their health and physical functioning than in their younger years to maintain their quality of life. 

Everyday learning later in life is a crucial component to maintaining overall health and identity.  Roumell believes it allows adults to pursue existential learning and contemplate the meaning of life, obtain wisdom-related knowledge that facilitates their reflective thinking, and negotiate with their past, present, and future selves.

Everyday learning is also essential when it comes to an older adult’s physical identity, which is a major component of developing one’s identity as it relates to autonomy and independence.  

To maintain independence at an older age, Roumell explains that one must work on physical literacy.

“The idea of physical literacy would be that individuals become more knowledgeable about their own body, and the various key factors that impact their overall health, physical fitness, and ability to maintain a satisfactory level of activity and continue living a fulfilling life as they age,” Roumell says.