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Education and Learning for Seniors

November 30, 2015, 01:23 AM

Children who see their retired grandparents going to lectures, reading books, or learning new skills sometimes wonder – why are they learning when they don’t have to? While kids have come to think of going to school as a chore, the older people get, the more they realize just how valuable education is, and just how wondrous it is to learn new things.

That’s why, as people get older, retire, and have more free time on their hands, they love studying and learning new things. Not only is it interesting, but it keeps their minds engaged and stimulated, which is healthy for aging brains.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by tedxpioneervalley2012 via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by tedxpioneervalley2012 via flickr

What Topics Do Seniors Enjoy Learning About?

Everything and anything! But what many seniors especially enjoy is learning something different and new. For example, a retired math teacher might enjoy trying his hand at art or music; a retired scientist might enjoy trying his hand at literature; a retired salesman might want to study calculus or botany.

In other cases, seniors enjoy continuing what they did in their working years, or something similar, in a different context. A retired carpenter who enjoys using his hands may want to study a different manual craft. A retired librarian who loves language and reading might want to learn a foreign language; a retired teacher may want to study psychology or public speaking.


Learning how to use a computer/internet is one of the most popular subjects for seniors. People in their 60s, 70s and older did not grow up with the technology that we did, so what is second-nature to us might be gibberish to them. Learning how to use computers, the internet, Facebook, etc. is a great pastime for seniors that can not only keep their minds sharp, but can also give them ways of keeping in touch with friends and family.

Free Education Resources For Seniors in Chicago

There are a plethora of educational resources online, but if seniors prefer to go somewhere local to learn, then they get the added benefit of socializing:

  • In Chicago, many senior centers offer different classes and activities. For a list of centers, see here.
  • For seniors who want to pursue further education, there are many colleges in Illinois that offer reduced tuition rates! For a list of colleges, see here.
  • In 2016, Senior Summer School is coming to Chicago, and it’s a great program that combines education and travel in a group setting.
  • Certain hospitals and medical centers in Chicago also offer senior education programs. For seniors who are interested in science, the body and medicine, it’s a fabulous opportunity to experience hands-on learning from real professionals. Here is a list of suburban medical centers and hospitals in Illinois.

Stay Young Through Learning

As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Which is a great answer that seniors can give to their grandchildren when they ask, why are you learning and studying if you don’t have to?

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