Music, computers, history and more - retirees are learning it all
Professor Stephen McNair recently shared with The Guardian some of the results of his research on the effects of lifelong learning. He noted that education is "particularly important" during retirement, because learning is central to well-being. Some research by Britain's Alzheimer's Society has shown that there are cognitive benefits to learning as well.
Of course, the tangible benefits of taking classes after retirement come from learning something in the process. Octogenarian Jim Kelly was inspired to go back to the classroom by his granddaughter.
Now, he has become versed in subjects from the Glorious Revolution to gardening. Maria Tolly, 78, found a similar passion when her original dream to become a professional guitarist was in put on hold in 1989 and she started to take specialist music technology courses instead.
"I was concerned that I might be sidelined," she told the publication. "But actually studying... has proved that age is immaterial - I feel so connected to life thanks to a combination of forgetting myself and realizing how much I still have to learn."
Others, like 91-year-old John Salinas, are taking lifelong learning courses to learn about the latest technology so that he can start using it in his everyday life. When he first started his computer classes, he didn't know how to plug in his laptop - but now he's taking pictures with his digital camera.
At Del Webb retirement communities such as Del Webb Woodbridge, residents have access to world-class educational opportunities at San Joaquin College, The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of the Pacific or California State University Sanislaus' University Extended Education program. You can take classes to brush up on the latest trends in technology, whether you're a novice or expert, or decide to pursue a passion in music. If you instead want to focus on building up a nest egg or diversifying a portfolio, there are also sessions to take on financial planning and investing.
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In years past, it may have seemed unusual to see scores of older adults heading back to the classroom, but that is no longer the case. Many retirees make lifelong learning a priority once they leave the workforce, and few people are more emblematic of this growing trend than 92-year-old Ruth Elliott.
After retiring, adults have many decisions to make. Do they want to embark on an encore career? Travel? Perhaps they want to volunteer. But one of the most popular options for boomers is heading back to the classroom.
The baby boomer generation has been shaping travel trends for decades, and now as millions of its members are heading toward retirement, it is doing the same thing once again.
Heading back to the classroom has become a popular retirement activity for older adults.