We Still Have A Lot To Learn: Learning Experiences Of Individuals Age 80 And Older In Care Facilities In A Midwestern State
SubjectOlder people--Knowledge and learning--Analysis; Urban elderly--Education--Analysis; Rural elderly--Education--Analysis; Continuing education--Analysis
This qualitative study focused on the learning experiences of individuals, age 80 and older, in care facilities in a Midwestern state. Even with the well documented growth of the over age 85 demographic, there are few studies about learning that included this demographic or considered the wants and needs of this group. Using a phenomenological research approach, participants for this study were purposefully selected from two rural and two urban care facilities. These participants took part in three semi-structured interviews. The first included questions about their life history, the second focused on their current learning activities, while the final interview provided time for the participants to reflect on the meaning of learning within their lives. Additional data was collected through observing learning activities at each of the participating facilities. By using the constant comparative data analysis method along with open and focused coding, four themes emerged from the data collected: overwhelming participation in both non-formal and informal learning, learning through travel and exercise, motivation for learning: cognitive interests and social aspect, and positive impacts of learning in later life. The importance of continuing learning activities in later life was overwhelmingly supported by the findings of this study. The participants in this study were active, able, and learning daily. They all provided images of individuals over 80 who are successfully aging and living. With a lack of research that includes the over age 85 demographic, the findings of this study call for a start to building a better understanding of the impacts of continued learning with the oldest of the old.