Never be satisfied with a formal education.  The real learning starts upon graduation.  The usefulness of the information you receive before and after graduation is directly proportional to the number of years you spend in the workforce.  I believe this, because knowledge is meant to be applied, not just remembered.  Knowledge becomes wisdom when it is combined with practical experience and life’s lessons.  And as you grow older, it even helps protect you from dementia and improves your quality of life.

Wow, am I talking about aging and dementia to youngsters like you? Well I hope this does not come as a surprize, but aging does not just happen to old people. And if you are old enough to work for a living, you must know by now that life seems to zoom by in this fast-paced digital age of speed.

Did you realize that Alzheimer’s starts about 20 or more years before it exhibits any symptoms? And that by the time you reach 85, half of you will have Alzheimer’s. And that if you live to be a senior, one in three of you will die of Alzheimer’s or some other kind of dementia? To top it all off, as of now, there is no known cure, and no way of reversing or even stopping the disease from progressing.

If you want to be proactive, I recommend that now is the time to act so you can avoid it and live to enjoy the fruits of your labour. I am not trying to frighten you, but I have already lost family members with dementia, and I have a few memory problems myself. So, I have been researching dementia, and plan to devote a few blogs to preventative measures. Just a warning so you can skip the next few blog articles if you are not interested.

The first preventive measure I am suggesting is lifelong learning, which not only adds valuable information for later recall, but provides thinking exercises for the brain, grows neurons, and increases neural connections. Lifelong learning could delay the onset of cognitive impairment by 3 to 8 years. It is powerful for cognitive development. Our chance of developing Alzheimer’s drops 17% for every year of education beyond high school, according to John Ratey, in his book, Go wild: free yourself from the afflictions of civilization.

You do not have to go back to school or take courses to keep learning. You can also do it by reading newspapers, listening to audio recordings, keeping up to date with world events, discussing current events with friends at McDonald’s, and so on. But courses, seminars, conferences, and workshops provide the opportunity to network, interact with others, and build relationships as well.

John C Maxwell, in his book, How Successful People Think, suggests that we should learn continually, listen intentionally, look expansively, and live completely. This includes learning from every experience and from every person you meet.

Proactive people are not idle observers. They are active participants in all areas of their lives, not just in their business or career, whether that is in school, at work, at home or away. Take responsibility for your own life. Think ahead, act ahead, and get ahead.