Retirees in the UK are keen to keep learning as part of the fight to remain mentally healthy in old age.

According to new research from Retirement Advantage, the message of keeping the grey matter active as a way to prevent degenerative mental health disease, such as dementia, is hitting home. However, far from hitting the books, many of the UK’s over 50s are starting to use digital tablets to realise their plans for learning new topics and skills.

The over 50s show a thirst for learning new things and growing as individuals once they retire. ‘Expanding Horizons’, Retirement Advantage’s report into peoples’ financial and lifestyle outlooks in retirement, shows that three in five (57%) aim to learn a new skill or interest. Of those, three quarters (72%) say their motivation for learning is to keep mentally active and healthy – staying physically active (58%) and making friends (33%) are the next most cited reasons.

Computer Keyboard

According to Dementia UK, 850,000 people in the UK have dementia with the number set to breach 1 million by 2025.

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at Retirement Advantage, said:

The message of taking preventative action in older age is now getting through. Thanks to vital work from charities and the NHS, people are aware of the risk of diseases such as dementia and are wanting to maintain a growth mindset, embarking on retirements that involve taking up new skills and learning new subjects.’

Perhaps surprisingly for this demographic, the most popular way to engage in learning is digitally, by doing a course online (22%). Just 17% would opt to head out to a college and only 4% would consider university.

Andrew Tully added:

Digital learning is certainly not just for millennials. In older age, tablets of a digital type must be considered key to helping older people learn and therefore help keep mentally healthy. 

‘Financial services has a key part to play in enabling people to continue to learn and grow in retirement.  It’s crucial that we too keep learning; understanding how the outlooks of retirees evolve and, through this, providing advice and products that will help people fulfil their plans for retirement.

A copy of the report ‘Expanding Horizons’ can be downloaded here.

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