There is much talk in the media of late about 60 being the new 40, with life expectancy increasing and people living longer, healthier lives. In Ireland today average life expectancy is 82 years. This means from the ‘normal’ retirement age of 65 most of us can expect to live for another 20 years. As a consequence older people will now have greater opportunities to actively participate in and to contribute to their communities and society through learning and education, paid and voluntary work.
To address this challenge Mary Immaculate College is commencing two new exciting programmes that deal with the Education and Wellbeing of the Older Person. The Certificate (Level 6) of Arts in Education and Wellbeing of the Older Person and the Masters (Level 9) of Arts in Education and Wellbeing of the Older Person address Ageing Society and Sociology of Ageing, Psychology of Ageing and Active Ageing, as well as Leadership and Advocacy. Applications are sought from older persons themselves, those working with older people, informal and formal carers. Health and Social Care Practitioners and persons working in formal and adult education sector will also be interested in the programmes.
According to Liz Early, programme Co-ordinator; “The increase in life expectancy offers exciting challenges and opportunities for us as we age and for those working with older persons. Just as we prepare for earlier phases of our lives we now need to prepare for this ‘third’ stage”. She goes on to say that; “Keeping people engaged, active and healthy as they age will add life to years as well as years to life”.
The new programmes are timely and relevant addressing salient and emerging national issues such as the quality of life for older people, the fastest growing population group in Ireland and the western world. Lifelong learning, another salient area, is a principle underpinning European and national educational policy. It is expected that programme graduates will contribute to these social development issues nationally and internationally.
Elements of the programme will be offered using a blended learning approach. Educational principles and methodologies will foster reflective practice, use experiential learning methods, provide learner support and create an environment conducive to intellectual growth, learning, professional and personal development. Successful participants will be well placed to seek opportunities to work with and for older persons from an education and wellbeing perspective, opening up new and exciting challenges for all involved.