Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lifelong Learning Thursday

Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret of Making the Most of Your After 50 Years will share the benefits of Lifelong Learning on Thursdays.

The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.

Lifelong Learning in Your Later Years…
A Health Club for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit!

As we have previously discussed, research indicates that the brain is a vital organ that responds to new stimuli. It needs to be challenged and thrives in enriched environments. Just like we take care of our bodies, our brain’s health too, depends on the care it is given – and the perfect environment for that care is a Lifelong Learning Institute – a health club for the brain!

In fact, education is the perfect food for the brain. It plays a big role in the psychological and physical wellness of older adults. Continuing our education in some form, beyond the traditional model, is becoming very common. According to the National Center for Education statistics, the number of adult learners is both large and growing.

Look at the numbers. In 1999, 90 million Americans participated in some form of adult learning. That’s up from the 58 million registered in 1991. And of those 90 million adult learners, 23 million were over the age of 50.

Clearly, people are beginning to realize that continuing learning is essential to their longevity. Lifelong learning is becoming a way of life for many people who are entering middle and later years, and a segment of these people are taking part in programs known as Lifelong Learning Institutes or LLIs.

A best guess estimate is that there are now approximately 250,000 older adults taking part in between 500-750 organized classroom-type Lifelong Learning Institutes across North America. That number is sure to grow as our population ages, especially as people become more aware of the concept, benefits and opportunities of belonging to an LLI.

In the next few columns I will be discussing the various aspects of Lifelong Learning Institutes. Along with keeping our brain healthy, participation in these programs challenges our personal standards for excellence. We reach for new levels of growth and health. LLIs stretch our minds and provide us with opportunities to expand our knowledge.

By joining a Lifelong Learning Institute your sense of personal empowerment, your self-esteem, and feelings of contribution will take a big leap. Participants in LLIs also gain insight on how to make their personal lives more efficient, effective and enjoyable. They develop new interests by simply trying something new.

Lifelong Learning Institutes keep us motivated when life gets a little overwhelming. Finally, these programs help fulfill personal aspirations and ensure continued growth and intellectual stimulation.

Lifelong Learning Institutes can be a valuable tool for those of us facing 30 or more years of post-work life, if we want those years to be rich and fulfilling.

Next week we’ll look at the history of lifelong learning institutes.

Learning is ever in the freshness of its youth, even for the old – Aeschylus. How interesting that even way back in ancient Greece, the value of continuing to learn into old age was recognized and celebrated. Let’s continue that tradition!

For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit

You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at

Till Next Time…

Nancy Merz Nordstrom is Director of the Lifelong Learning Department at Computer School for Seniors (

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