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July 21, 2015

Wellness for Older Adults: Getting Started with Lifelong Learning

There is no doubt staying physically active is important to stay healthy as you age. But, to quote an article in Westchester Magazine, “Anything you do to exercise your mind is money in the emotional and cognitive bank. Studies have shown that the more you find intellectual, social, and cultural stimulation, the more likely you are to age in a healthy way.” 

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

SeniorLiving.About.com shares multiple benefits of lifelong learning, including that it: 

  • Keeps your mind sharp
  • Improves memory
  • Increases self-confidence
  • Offers an inexpensive way to try something new
  • Saves money as you learn to “do it yourself”
  • Gives you a feeling of accomplishment
  • Helps you meet people who share your interests
  • Builds on skills you already have
  • Offers an opportunity to learn a new skill or trade and increase your income
  • Gives you a new interest you can share with family and friends

Lifelong Learning Options in Northeast Ohio

The Ohio Department of Aging defines lifelong learning as the “continuing pursuit of knowledge to build skills, explore new ideas, enhance understanding and enrich life.” The site notes that recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education shows that adults are the fastest growing educational demographic and that continuing education, even for post-retirement adults, “can help maintain or buffer our physical and mental wellbeing.”

To help, all state colleges and universities in Ohio provide adults aged 60 and above the opportunity to attend classes for free, with additional institutions providing continuing education opportunities for older adults. Participation is limited by space and must have instructor approval. Fees for books, equipment and lab use may apply. Senior centers also provide educational opportunities. 

See this page for links to Ohio universities that provide these opportunities

Road Scholar

The Ohio Department of Aging also provides a link to Road Scholar, self-described as the “not-for-profit leader in educational travel since 1975” that “offers 5,500 educational tours in all 50 states and 150 countries” that provide “in-depth and behind-the-scenes learning opportunities, from cultural tours and study cruises to walking, biking and more.” 

Senior Scholars

Senior Scholars is an 11-week program that meets three afternoons per week. Lectures are  provided by Case Western Reserve University faculty and local experts in an informal and interactive style. Questions are welcomed and the classes are held at the College Club of Cleveland located at 2348 Overlook Road in Cleveland Heights. 

Lorain County Community College: Center for Lifelong Learning

Lorain County Community College (LCCC) on Abbe Road in Elyria, Ohio, offers free courses for people aged 60 and up, and they also offer numerous additional opportunities for older adults, including the Academy for Lifelong Learning, which offers non-credit programming for people who are 50+ and/or retired. 

Topics include:

  • Computers
  • The Internet
  • Estate planning
  • Career enrichment
  • Fitness and recreation
  • World cultures
  • Astronomy
  • Gardening
  • History genealogy
  • Antique collecting
  • Creative writing 

LCCC also offers intergenerational classes, where adults and children enjoy activities together, which could be an ideal way to spend time with your grandchildren or other youngsters. Past activities have included water color pencil art classes and trips to the Akron Aeros baseball games and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 

Taking part in any lifelong learning program can allow you to meet new people, hone your skills or introduce you to a new hobby, while providing the physical and mental stimulation you need to remain healthy and happy.

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