The Social and Cognitive Transformation of Older Adult Women: an Analysis of Community Well-Being for a University-Based Lifelong Learning Community

Abstract

Lifelong learning is a social and cognitive process that helps individuals build on their knowledge, skills, and abilities throughout their lives. This process is transformational for older adults. This study examines the social and cognitive transformation of older adult women involved in a large lifelong learning institute in the United States. Sense of community and gerotranscendence are used as measures of social and cognitive transformation, respectively. The relationships of these concepts with life satisfaction and quality of life are quantitatively and qualitatively investigated. Findings indicate that sense of community positively relates to life satisfaction and quality of life, while gerotranscendence only relates to life satisfaction. The qualitative findings support these connections as well as demonstrate the transformative effects of lifelong learning. This study concludes that a social and cognitive perspective on transformation will be beneficial to future investigations of life satisfaction, quality of life, and other measures of individual and community well-being.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    While this paper focuses on older adult women, great work regarding older adult men and lifelong learning has been undertaken (e.g., Golding et al. 2014).

  2. 2.

    For more information on Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, visit http://www.osherfoundation.org/index.php?olli.

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Acknowledgements

A special thanks is offered to Cindy Warren of Hobart & William Smith Colleges for her assistance with this manuscript. Special thanks are offered to Mikulas Pstross and Kevin Wilson of Arizona State University for their assistance with the data analyzed and literature found in this manuscript.

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Talmage, C.A., Ross, A., Searle, M.S. et al. The Social and Cognitive Transformation of Older Adult Women: an Analysis of Community Well-Being for a University-Based Lifelong Learning Community. Int. Journal of Com. WB 1, 11–31 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42413-018-0003-3

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Sense of community
  • Gerotranscendence
  • Quality of life
  • Life satisfaction