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Why Do Old People Stop Learning?

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about learning new things and growing old. Maybe it’s because I’m constantly learning new things and I’m growing old. Maybe it’s because I write about old doctors who have no interest in learning the new technologies. Regardless I’m really intrigued by old age and the decision by many not to learn something new.

To some extent I get that you have what works and you don’t want to spend the time and effort that it takes to learn something new. I also get it if something new isn’t something that you would find useful. What I don’t get is when a new technology would make your life easier, why is it that when you’re old you often don’t want to learn it.

I had a recent example of this. An old man (might have been Crash Grandpa) was coming for a visit. He’d just gotten the new iPhone 6. He gave me the new cell number and said he’d give me a call when he was close. I said, “or you could text me.” His instant response was, “Oh no, I don’t do that.” Say what? That seemed odd to me. Not that I needed him to text me. A call would be fine too. Although, I likely wouldn’t hear it to answer it and so he’d leave a message which would be transcribed and sent to me as a text. No skin off my back. I’ll get it as a text either way. What I don’t get is why he seemed almost afraid to learn it.

It makes me wonder if it’s the nature of how some people were raised. I can’t imagine that as I get older I won’t want to try out some of the newest and latest technology. Whether I’ll need that technology is another story, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to take it for a spin and see if it could make my life better.

Plus, I’ve kind of got this bitter streak when someone says that I can’t do something. That makes me really want to try and do it. Then again, maybe your brain gets so full that when you’re older, there’s just no more room at the inn. You’re just tired of reprogramming the brain. Maybe it does take a lot more energy when you’re older to learn something new.

What do you think? Why do we stop learning new things as we get older? Should we kick and fight against that? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By John

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

3 replies on “Why Do Old People Stop Learning?”

I think it’s a personal choice and not because you are “old”. Some people don’t want to use some of the newer technology because it takes away from the personal touch, such as hearing people’s voices and talking one on one. Some are afraid of newer technology and doubt their own ability to learn it. Some are open and willing to learn. It depends more on the person although I do agree that as we get older we are probably a little more cautious about the newer technologies. But I think most older people still expand their learning through reading more and other ways as they have more time to do so. Learning should never stop and it comes in all sorts of ways.

You make a fine point. There are certainly different types of learning. So, maybe learning was the wrong word or at least it needs to be qualified with learning technology. I still wonder if my generation will fall prey to the same issues. We may not have as much of a choice if the technologies we’re use to using disappear. I guess that happens with every generation though. I don’t see many rotary phones in houses anymore.

As I sit here with my iPad reading your post about old people and chuckling to myself I started thinking seriously about the topic. I believe it’s generational and desire. Since I retired I have learned more about stoves and cooktops than I ever imagined, we purchased an induction cooktop and love it. I’m taking online classes learning new sewing techniques. I have learned more about TBIs and PTSD. iPhones and cell phones in general are harder for older people who have memory issues and arthritis in their fingers. The keys are very small and sometimes hard to read. I do like memory keypads for unlocking doors instead of a key and not seeing the keyhole. I have had my eyes checked and they are supposed to be good, but If the lighting is not good life is harder. I think people just get tired of challenging themselves. I believe having grandchildren will keep me on my toes.

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