Thursday, September 3, 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!

The lifelong learning movement for older adults got a huge boost with the entry of Elderhostel, Inc. Let’s spend a few minutes today learning more about how this happened.

As lifelong learning programs were being developed at colleges and universities, Elderhostel too, since its start in 1975, had been growing rapidly. By the mid-1980s, the not-for-profit organization was running a very successful, large, decentralized operation offering educational travel programs to older adults.

Their expertise was just what the founders of the “learning in retirement” movement were looking for as they struggled to help start new programs all over the country. So, it was only natural that Elderhostel and these early pioneers of lifelong learning should come together, as their missions were the same – outstanding educational opportunities for older adults.

So, in 1988, after informal discussions between the leaders of both groups, the Elderhostel Institute Network (EIN) opened its doors at Elderhostel headquarters in New Hampshire. The mission of EIN was and is, to strengthen and support the effectiveness of lifelong learning institutes (LLIs), to encourage the establishment of new institutes, and to disseminate information about the institutes and the movement in general.

Between 1988 and 1999, a staff of five Elderhostel employees traveled all across the country leading workshops and giving advice on how to start new lifelong learning institutes, then called Institutes for Learning in Retirement or ILRs.

According to Jim Verschueren, EIN’s first director:

“It was not an easy start. Among the perhaps 75 ILRs at the time the Network was launched, several were skeptical of Elderhostel’s involvement. Would the well-established, international organization attempt to take over?" As one member asked in a large, public meeting, “Is this like the federal government – bringing good things to us with all kinds of strings attached?” Over time, as all associated with the Network worked hard to support, but never to direct the exponential growth of ILRs, much of the resistance subsided. To the Network’s credit, promotion of the ILR concept immediately bore fruit. As new ILRs were launched at an ever-increasing pace, affiliations grew annually, from fewer than 100 the first year to almost 300 by year six.”

More than 200 new programs were started during these years. Today, the Elderhostel Institute Network continues to grow, and is still focused on its primary three-pronged mission. It is North America’s largest and most respected educational network for older adults, with almost 400 affiliated lifelong learning institutes. And, Elderhostel, now headquartered in Boston, still provides support and guidance to EIN as the Network continues to work with all the programs through its web site: and email:

America’s storyteller, Louis L’Amour said, Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value. Thanks to the involvement of Elderhostel in helping circulate the lifelong learning movement, millions of older adults now have more meaningful later lives.

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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