By Shelley A. Gable
WebMD reports that many people start to notice decreased memory performance in their 50s. We all know to expect physiological changes as we age. As early as our 20s we begin to lose some brain cells, and our bodies start to make less of the chemicals needed to generate new brain cells.
When experts talk about decreasing memory performance, they’re usually referring to the ability to learn something new. As my grandfather approached his 90s, he could easily tell stories from earlier in his life with surprising detail, despite the fact that conversations from earlier in the day seemed fuzzy. This is pretty common.
With an aging workforce, what does this mean for continuing education and online learning?
Despite the toll that aging typically has on learning, there are habits we can develop earlier in our lives to help make learning easier. We can apply these productive habits to online insurance ce courses.
Think critically about the information presented to you.
Rote memorization rarely leads to actual learning. In order to learn something well enough to recall it later, you must think about newly learned knowledge in a way that is meaningful to you personally.
According to a study that compared the ability of younger and older adults to memorize words, older participants tended to be less likely learn these words in a way that was meaningful. In one condition of the study, researchers asked participants to memorize words, without providing any specific instructions for doing so. In this situation, younger participants recalled significantly more words than older participants. In a second condition, researchers asked participants to make judgments about the words. In this situation, the memory difference between younger and older participants was significantly less. This study’s findings support the importance of thinking critically about the content being learned and suggest that older participants were less likely do that without being prompted.
So how does this relate to online insurance continuing education?
When completing an online course, go beyond reading the words on the screen. Proactively think about how the information you’re learning might impact your job, and apply that information on the job as soon as possible. Take notes to organize the information in a way that makes sense to you. Go out of your way to discuss newly learned information with a colleague.
All of these activities prompt you to think critically about your newly learned knowledge and reframe it in a way that applies directly to your world. This strengthens the connection between new information and the knowledge you already have, which should make newly learned information easier to recall later.
Proceed at a comfortable pace.
The speed at which we can take in and process new information slows as we age. In other words, if a large amount of new information is presented quickly, we’re likely to miss more as we grow older. Fortunately, one of the advantages of online learning is that you control the pace. If you need an extra few seconds to read everything on the screen and think through its implications, you can take all the time you need.
Slow the effects of aging on memory.
In addition to the productive learning habits described above, other healthy habits can help keep your mind sharp well into your golden years. Managing stress, although sometimes easier said than done, can do wonders for both mental and physical health. Getting the sleep you need is also important, since memories are solidified during slumber. And of course, regular exercise and a healthy diet are critical, as both play a role in providing the brain with the fuel it needs to function properly.
If you appreciate these ideas, it’d be swell for you would share them (button below) or subscribe via the feed.
Interested in sales? Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling.. Click here to get licensed.
Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.