They say that curiosity keeps the mind young. In fact, according to the Association for Psychological Science, learning new skills keeps an aging mind sharp. Continuing education about something unfamiliar and challenging provides mental and social stimulation. Therefore, think of aging as a unique time and opportunity to explore something new.

Continuing Education and Training Opportunities

Colleges, libraries, agencies, online courses, and community organizations all provide many learning opportunities for seniors. And, according to Consumer Reports, as a senior you can enjoy many of these courses for free.

Local community colleges and universities. Some of these institutions of learning offer discounted or free continuing education opportunities for seniors. Seniors can contact the financial aid or admission offices of schools in their area.

A wide range of programs are offered for seniors at community colleges. Community colleges also provide non-degree seeking offerings in subjects, such as art or history. Online and telecourses for learning at home are available as well.

For example, Harvard University offers a wide variety of online courses, which include:

  • Art and design
  • Business
  • Computer science
  • Social sciences
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics

Some of the classes are free and some require tuition.

Many colleges across the nation offer online degrees with senior citizens in mind.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute provides for many classes on college campuses across the United States. The Institute was created to meet the needs of individuals age 50 and older, and offers a wide variety of classes:

  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Art
  • Music
  • Current events
  • Political issues
  • Religion
  • Science
  • Literature
  • Languages

For people 55 and older, the AARP Foundation’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) provides both community service and work-based training. To qualify, a person must be unemployed; and have an income of not more than 125% of the established federal poverty guidelines. The program is offered in 21 states and Puerto Rico.

Area Agency on Aging organizations (AAA) in many communities offer training and educational opportunities. You can locate your local AAA at the national website here.

TED Talks provide short powerful online talks (18 minutes or less) on almost every topic from science to business to global issues; including talks on lifelong learning.

What Do You Gain?

Aside from new knowledge and skills, studies have shown that seniors who participate in new, mentally-stimulating activities have improved memories. Lifelong learning is also linked to a diminished rate of depression and anxiety. So keep on learning!

If you’re seeking more enriching activities for the independent senior, visit Bethesda’s Independent Living blog.

Bethesda has a 133-year tradition of providing excellent senior living options, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. If you are considering independent living, we welcome you to tour one of our exceptional communities, including Bethesda Barclay House – Clayton, Bethesda Gardens – Kirkwood, Bethesda Orchard – Webster Groves, Bethesda Terrace – South County, Village North Retirement Community – Florissant, and The Oaks at Bethesda Villas – Kirkwood/Webster. Discover the level of care only a non-profit staffed by highly-trained nurses, therapists, and aids can offer.