Many people think college and higher education is exclusively for young adults, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are a variety of opportunities out there for seniors to continue learning new things and keep their cognitive abilities sharp well into the latter stages of life.
You aren’t limited to basic community center classes, either. Colleges and universities are making it easier than ever for older nontraditional students to go back to school, and many are taking advantage of the opportunity. The number of graduates and postgraduates between the ages of 50 and 64 increased by 20 percent from 2007 to 2011.
Benefits of Lifelong Learning
There is evidence that learning could help the brain stay sharper for longer. Studies have shown that performing challenging cognitive tasks can slow age-related mental decline.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that candidates in the experimental group showed better memory, reasoning and processing speed after undergoing 10 training sessions compared to the group that did not. The other benefits of lifelong learning for seniors include:
- Control over the subjects – Not a numbers person? No problem! There is a wide variety of classes you can take, including art, literature, music and more.
- Having more time to learn – Seniors don’t have the challenge of balancing a busy work and school schedule like younger students do.
- Opportunities to socialize – There is research that shows social interaction is good for seniors. School gives you a chance to connect with new people.
Tips for Pursuing Lifelong Learning
Going back to school in any capacity may seem daunting, especially when you consider the continually rising tuition costs. However, financial aid, student loans and even some senior-specific educational programs make lifelong learning increasingly accessible to people of all ages.
If you want to go to college, it is recommended you explore financial aid options before committing to private funding. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine your financial need.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Pell Grants and various subsidized and unsubsidized loans are available. Financial aid may only be available to students who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree program, so be sure to read the fine print.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
In-state colleges Florida State University, the University of North Florida and Florida International University are partners with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a program offering scholarly courses specifically for mature adults age 50 and older. OLLI covers topics such as humanities, culture, art, health, fitness, history and more.
There are plenty of free e-courses available for the computer-savvy senior. For example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) OpenCourseWare project offers free courses spanning a number of topics online for the sole purpose of providing challenging academic content to the public.
Other digital opportunities include TED Talks, a collection of educational videos covering a variety of topics, LibriVox, a large selection of free public domain audiobooks, and Academic Earth®, a catalog of free college courses from a number of top universities.
Don’t forget to explore tax breaks. The Lifetime Learning Credit is worth up to $2,000 per tax return, and there is no limit to the amount of times it can be claimed. The American opportunity tax credit is worth up to $2,500 per eligible student annually, but this credit can only be claimed four times.
Senior Living in St. Augustine, FL
As you age, it’s crucial to maintain a good quality of life by continuing to be physically and mentally active. No one understands this better than Silver Creek. We are proud to provide a different take on senior living and memory care in a desirable location with unmatched amenities and comfortable living arrangements.
Find out more about our personalized senior care and enrichment opportunities by calling 800-940-0988 or visiting us online today.<< News
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