Lifelong Learning – A Key To Successful Aging
By Nora Riehl Zelluk and Tara White Kee, Professional and Continuing Studies, University of Delaware
Research on aging offers a striking model of aging as a potential time of brain health and growth. Mental stimulation and creative outlets can provide the opportunity to lead better quality lives filled with more knowledge and wisdom — and an increased capacity to contribute to society.
In one study, participants in creative programs like poetry writing, painting, or choral singing classes reported better physical health than those in the control group, and reported learning “new skills and new ways of looking at and expressing things.”
“Getting creative in your later years is a self-fueling engine,” is the message of Dr. Gene Cohen, founder of George Washington University’s Center on Aging, Health & Humanities. “The more you do, the more you can do.”
The University of Delaware has been a leader in lifelong learning programs that offer mental stimulation, creative outlets and social connections that positively impact quality of life. The programs feature an academic cooperative model which encourages age 50 plus members to share their expertise and talents as volunteer instructors and through committees.
An amazing variety of courses are offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at UD. Students take courses in art, history, literature, health, computers, yoga, philosophy, memoir writing, music, languages, genealogy, and much more. There are no exams or homework – just learning for the fun of it.
It’s not all about the classroom, though. It is now common knowledge that robust social relationships are one of the keys to staying healthy as we age, and members often mention how highly they value the friendships developed through the program. One student commented, “There is a youthfulness of spirit here that is palpable – a joie de vivre that you cannot believe.”
Osher Lifelong Learning programs are at the following locations:
• Arsht Hall on the UD Wilmington Campus at 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue
• Modern Maturity Center, 1121 Forrest Avenue in Dover
• Fred Thomas Building, 520 Dupont Avenue in Lewes
• Beginning in fall, in Ocean View
Nora Riehl Zelluk is the web/communications coordinator for Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Delaware.