Medical University of Varna (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 105-110
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.0083
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
The global community is ageing and the seniors will increasingly play important roles in the society. These demographic and social trends demand reforms, including the realm of education. The lifelong learning (LLL) concept is a driving force in these modern educational developments. LLL is a holistic idea that builds on the transformative energy of education throughout the life-course. Potentially, LLL can provide innovative pedagogical approaches to the growing educational needs of the older adults.

The LLL and healthy ageing is an expanding area of research and practice. The aim of this report is twofold. First, to investigate and model the links between LLL and health of the seniors. Further, a community-based study and success stories are presented from the municipality of Burgas, Bulgaria. Methodology: systematic literature review in PubMed with keywords "health, LLL, ageing, Bulgaria"; review of policy documents on LLL and health; study of the official website of Burgas.

The LLL and health of the seniors: Everyone can learn, anywhere at any age. Research in public health and educational gerontology investigates the causal relationships between LLL and healthy ageing. There is strong scientific evidence that LLL protects older persons’ health on many levels. Therefore, LLL is a sustainable health promotion strategy, which offers prevention, education and prophylactics. LLL at older age does not just mean obtaining job qualifications, it also means promoting social inclusion and voluntary learning throughout the retirement period for the well-being of the seniors. LLL can be a strategy for prevention and management of the “four geriatric giants”- immobility, instability, incontinence, cognitive impairments.

Research study and success stories from Burgas (the fourth largest Bulgarian city):
Communities are the most and directly affected by health promotion interventions like LLL. Herewith is presented a cross-sectional study which was conducted in 2011 (n = 1050, ≥18 years old) with a single exclusion criteria being institutionalized people. The pensioners were over-represented in the sample which corresponded with the research interest towards the health-related problems of the elderly. The overall objective was to measure the subjective health at a community level. The results proved that the reported problems are increasing with age (р < 0.001). However, the seniors who are with higher level of education, who are members of a retirement club, who practice any physical activity reported better health status. The study generated relevant evidence that assisted policymakers and local non-governmental organizations to build their LLL-programmes aiming at improving health status of the seniors.

Success stories from Burgas:
1) The new Municipality Library, which is age-friendly opened doors in 2021 (24 hours open);
2) The free LLL-computer literacy and language courses for the seniors (organised since 2015 in the cultural-educational clubs called “chitalishta”);
3) The Centro Cultural Búlgaro-Español "Estreia" project supported by the municipality - learning Spanish for dementia prevention in retirement clubs.

Traditionally, the municipality supports more than 50 retirement and veterans’ clubs, which in fact are LLL-centers.

LLL can bring wider health benefits when it is linked to lifestyle and social interventions. The empowerment of the seniors through community-based initiatives is reinforcing for LLL.
Lifelong learning, health, seniors, health promotion, community, Burgas, Bulgaria.