Remember the curiosity and exhilaration you felt as a student soaking up knowledge and learning new skills? Your retirement years are the perfect time to explore your academic interests and experience the joy of learning in your free time. You might return to areas of study that fascinated you in the past or explore something entirely new, whether that’s technology, world history, writing a personal narrative, or expressing your creativity through art or music.
Lifelong learning is for everyone at every age, and older adults have the freedom to choose an educational path to match their unique goals. There are countless ways to continue your education as an adult. You could enroll in college credit courses, attend community-based continuing education classes, or participate in enrichment activities offered at a senior living community.
Ideas to Spark Lifelong Learning
No matter how much you’ve learned in a lifetime, there’s always more knowledge to gain and skills to learn. With lots of continuing education programs available for older adults, keeping your mind fit can be a fun and rewarding adventure. Here are some ideas to inspire the next chapter of your learning:
College credit and noncredit courses. Older adults can enroll in college-level courses purely for the love of learning, with the option to earn college credits or take noncredit courses. Purdue University’s Center on Aging and the Life Course champions research and education on aging, offering discounted tuition for adults age 60+ and a special Grandparents University geared for older adult participants.
Community-based programs. Check out programs offered through your local community education center or community college. You could study a foreign language or learn more about computer technology, environmental science, or poetry. The Wabash Area Lifetime Learning Association provides social, cultural, and educational opportunities for adults age 50+ in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties in Indiana.
Enrichment activities. Discover an array of lifelong learning opportunities at senior living communities, where you can participate in regularly scheduled classes, programs, and educational lectures on campus. Attend a cooking class or a special program on photography, painting, papermaking, knitting, or other creative arts. Look for opportunities to join a club that matches your interests, where you can connect and share ideas with fellow gardeners, book lovers, quilters, and more.
Online learning. Sign up for online classes or webinars that get you engaged in learning from the comfort of home. Online education is easily adaptable to your schedule, so you can pursue it to the level you prefer. You might choose to take a single course or follow a degree program. Today, accredited colleges and universities offer online degree programs. In addition, SeniorPlanet.org from AARP offers free online classes and helpful technology tips for seniors.
Key Benefits of Lifelong Learning
Keeping your mind open to learning new things every day is key to a healthy and happy life. Lifelong learning enhances your everyday life and keeps you on your toes by nurturing multiple dimensions of wellness, including physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, vocational, emotional, and environmental wellness. Best of all, learning something new can help keep you feeling young!
Here’s a closer look at some of the benefits of continuing education for older adults:
- Social engagement. Participating in continuing education classes allows you to connect with new people and engage in riveting discussions with those who share common interests.
- Brain power. Learning new things throughout your lifetime can help keep your mind sharp, and may offer some protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Physical activity. Participating in different forms of continuing education can help you learn new skills that promote physical activity. For example, try learning a new skill that requires working with your hands, such as clay sculpture or crocheting.
- Positive energy. Learning something new gives you a feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence in your abilities, and may also help you find inspiration in everyday life.
Continue Your Educational Journey
At Westminster Village in West Lafayette, we encourage lifelong learning opportunities, whether on your own through self-directed learning or in an adult education/continuing education setting. We can help you get started. Residents can choose from a range of classes and activities on campus, and we can help you discover and pursue whatever education pathway interests you. Contact us today to learn more about our independent living community where you will find a vibrant group of individuals that are on their lifelong learning as well!