The Internet: A Useful Learning Tool for Older Adults

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"Internet usage by older adults is growing by leaps and bounds," says Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of "Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years" (Sentient Publications: ISBN: 1-59181-047-7). "They are using the Internet to learn about ways to make their lives better- searching for information on personal needs, keeping in touch with family and friends, reading periodicals and newspapers, and researching product information" she says. For older adults, as well as the 78 million Baby Boomers looking for ways to enhance their retirement, the Internet is proving to be a very useful learning tool.

According to Benjamin Franklin "The doors of wisdom are never shut," author Nancy Merz Nordstrom says. "Little did he realize when he uttered those words some 250 years ago, how prophetic they would be. Today, knowledge and hopefully wisdom, are indeed available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, thanks to the Internet, the Information Super Highway. And older adults are embracing it with open arms."

According to a Burst Media survey, U.S. online adults 55 years and older, who are usually the heaviest users of off-line media, say the ability to access online content any time of the day, and the greater accuracy of online information, are the primary advantages of the Internet versus TV, radio, magazines, or newspapers. Online learning is also a big part of this usage with 34.7% saying education is another reason for using the Internet.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that keeping your brain challenged is key to helping maintain its health. Thanks to a computer and a hookup to the Internet, Nordstrom says "you have all the tools you really need to help ensure this happens. And it's not weather dependent, or available only if you are up and about. You can go online from the comfort of home, at your own pace, and in your own time, no matter what your physical capability. It doesn't get much better than that."

This is the very reason "Learning Later, Living Greater" author Nordstrom, has added a fourth tool - the Internet - as a way for older adults to use lifelong learning as a health club for their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Her book describes in detail how keeping your mind, body and spirit enriched through lifelong learning in the classroom, educational travel and meaningful community service can lead to an enriching later life. She has now added the Internet as yet another way to ensure life fulfillment.

"Whether you want to learn for college credit, or to upgrade job skills, or to learn for the sheer joy of learning, the Internet gives you that opportunity," she says. "You are exposed to a wealth of knowledge, centralized in one place and available with a few key strokes. Using the Internet expands our intellectual, social and spiritual horizons. It can even help us physically if we find and use health information that inspires us to live healthy lifestyles," continues Nordstrom.

As Jeanette Berlin, one older learner says, "I like to think of lifelong learning through the Internet as a way to help in my personal development and growth. Thanks to the Internet keeping my mind active is easier than it's ever been before."

Nancy Merz Nordstrom (Email: learninglater @ comcast.net) is a frequent consultant to news organizations and outlets eager to discuss the redefinition of retirement for older adults as well as the Baby Boomer generation. She blogs at numerous websites and is one of lifelong learning's preeminent experts.

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