Elder Education: The Benefits of Earning a Degree as a Senior

The habit of learning is one that adults often foster in children, but it can also be a good plan for healthy living throughout your life.

Individuals who tackle new educational opportunities maintain their zest for life and enjoy better health, as well as a more satisfying social life. If you are considering taking on pursuing an associates degree or other goal in your later years, you are likely to benefit in a number of ways from your endeavor.

Intellectual Stimulation

For those who have retired from their usual field of work, the change of pace and lack of mental challenges can pose a problem. These individuals are often used to constant interactions with a team of co-workers and a wealth of problem-solving opportunities offered by an average workday. Pursing new educational opportunities can be an appropriate remedy for post-retirement boredom and can provide topics to aid in social interactions. Studies show that the earlier you retire, the more likely you are to experience cognitive decline because of lack of stimulation.

Seniors often become more socially isolated after retirement and often have fewer opportunities to learn new subjects and skills. This lack of intellectual stimulation can lead to memory problems and slower cognitive function. New learning helps to counteract this effect.


Greater Ability to Connect with Young People and the Wider World

Often, retired individuals become disconnected from what’s going on in the wider community, and they may find it more difficult to engage with grandchildren and other younger people in society. The knowledge and information provided by lifelong learning allows older people a greater understanding of the experiences of young people and the wider world. This ability not only provides mental stimulation, but also a better connection to younger family members and others.

Enhanced Access to Work Opportunities

If you are a senior who must, or prefers to, keep working after the age of 65, demonstrating your ability to acquire new skills and compete intellectually will be seen as a recommendation for job opportunities you may wish to pursue. Acquiring an associates degree in a specific area of study can be key to allowing you to enter a new field that interests you.

Better Physical Health

Individuals who remain intellectually engaged appear to enjoy better physical health, as well as having improved mental acuity and memory. This result appears to come from the mental activity causing individuals to get up and engage to pursue their interests. So exercising your mind also helps to exercise your body, with all the health benefits that normally accrue from such activity.

You Can Take Advantage of Free or Low-Cost Programs

Your desire to continue learning in your later years can also qualify you for a number of free or low-cost courses that are available in many communities across the country.

These programs have become available as greater understanding of the benefits of lifelong learning for seniors become better known.

These programs can help you to begin or continue your studies, as well as bring you into other seniors who are also pursuing subjects that interest them.

Lifelong learning is not just a phrase for the young. It can be a way of thinking that helps you to gain greater quality of life throughout the years. If you have a curious mind, enjoy intellectual challenges and know how to apply yourself to a subject, you can continue your learning opportunities, regardless of your age.

Research the many avenues that are now available to help you explore new subjects and develop new skills. You will find that your academic pursuits enrich you both mentally and experientially.

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Find Ways to Contribute, Even in Retirement

One of the first challenges newly retired individuals face is the struggle with a diminished sense of self-worth. The end of a person’s professional career also brings an end to decades of work and personal investment. Between the lack of a structured schedule, the reduced responsibilities and the abrupt halt of your career, adjusting to the next phase of life often comes with a great deal of difficulty. Unfortunately, too many retired individuals wind up resigning themselves to a reduced value and role in society.

But there’s a flawed logic in thinking that retirement equates decreased value. Even when individuals say goodbye to their day job, they’re still fully functioning members of society and equipped with skills that can make meaningful contributions. In fact, the opened up free time of no longer having a job creates plenty of opportunity to make yourself useful in ways not possible when you were fully employed. With a slight change of perspective, you can find plenty of ways to remain active and involved well into your retirement.

Get a hobby job


Many new retirees miss the productivity and routine of having a job. For them, there’s great news: You can easily get another job in retirement. But instead of a career-track position, consider taking a position at a place that you will enjoy while still being challenged. Seek out jobs that align with your hobbies and/or passions, whether that’s woodworking or simply talking to others. You can even settle on a part-time job with flexible hours to retain the benefits of retired life.

Volunteer your time to a local organization

If a second job isn’t of any interest, consider volunteering at a local organization you are passionate about. Historical societies, museums, non-profits and other organizations are always in need of helping hands across a wide range of tasks. If you’re committed to this type of work, your societal value in retirement could actually exceed what you experienced as a career worker.

Take, for example, Betty Ruth Kemp of Norman, Oklahoma. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, which refers to itself as “unconquered and unconquerable,” Kemp spent her life protecting tribal archives for the Chickasaw while serving for a variety of historical organizations. As a tribute to her service, Kemp was voted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Such achievements aren’t unthinkable for other retirees. If you find an organization you are passionate about, there’s nothing that says you can’t become an integral contributor in your golden years.

Continue learning

It’s becoming increasingly common for retirees to go back to school. Whether it’s taking classes at the university level or simply learning new skills and crafts through community colleges or local community centers, learning keeps your brain sharp and busy. Many people find significant personal satisfaction in undertaking education later in life.

It’s natural for big life transitions to come with some struggle. The important thing to remember in the days and weeks following your retirement is that your days can still be filled with meaning and purpose, even if that purpose is changed. Remember that the change is an opportunity to put your efforts toward something you are passionate about. That’s one of the best parts of the retirement years, and it will keep you highly valued in the eyes of others.

About the author: Danielle blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands she uses. In her spare time, she formally studies marketing at The Kelley School of Business and informally studies the Chickasaw Nation and other Native American tribes.

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Picking a Retirement Home: 10 Questions to Ask

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If you are a senior, an older grandmother or mother, father, grandparent…the thought of a retirement home has crossed your mind a time or two. I appreciate this entry by Danielle and some of the most asked questions and issues that arise when deciding on a retirement home. 🙂

Perhaps when you were younger, you never imagined relocating to a retirement home. However, now that the time has come, are you ready for senior community living? Chances are you probably haven’t given it much thought until now. To help you pick a retirement home that best fits your needs, ask the following questions.


What is the city like?

When picking a retirement home, it’s wise to look beyond the facility itself. What are the surroundings like? Do you have access to activities and opportunities you need to feel engaged? Consider cultural offerings in the place you settle down. Concerts, museums, art shows and other events are excellent ways to pass the time.

What amenities are offered?

Get as complete of a list as possible. Think about everything you’ll want close by: barber/hair dresser, fitness rooms, pools, personal trainers, clubhouses, biking/walking paths, cultural centers, art classes and much more keep you entertained, happy and well cared for.

Will grandchildren and other family members feel welcome?

If you want your family to visit, make sure the retirement home provides amenities that make them feel welcome. A playground, for example, is great for grandkids. Check with potential retirement homes about their visitor policies to make sure they coincide with your expectations.

Does the retirement home have you covered for years to come?

You can’t plan for today and ignore tomorrow. Instead, choose a retirement home that lets you age in place by providing more advanced assistance. Even if you don’t need it yet, the time may come when you appreciate free transportation, onsite medical services and a central dining room where you take your meals.

What recreational programs are offered?

From tennis, golf and Pilates classes to knitting, bridge and Mahjong games, find a retirement community that offers recreational programs that interest you.

What security measures keep residents safe?

Your old home may have featured the latest anti-burglar measures; how does the retirement community compare? Find out what security measures are taken to protect residents night and day.

Is the facility clean and well staffed?

The only way to know for sure is to visit the retirement homes you’re considering. Scrutinize the grounds, lobby and living areas. Talk to staff members to see if they appear competent, caring and respectful of residents.

Are the residents happy?

During your visit, talk to current residents. Ask what they like about the facility and what could be better. These honest inside opinions can be very enlightening, for better or worse.

What do the finances entail?

Retirement is all about living on a fixed income. You must know the bottom line before you relocate to one community or another. Ask upfront about specific costs and make sure you can afford the retirement home you settle on.

What types of assistance programs are offered?

If you’re a member of a minority group, such as the Chickasaw people, you can apply for an Assisted Living Benefit Program that provides up to $2,500 a month for Chickasaw elders to live in a state licensed assisted-living facility. If you have Chickasaw heritage, are 60 years or older and have financial need, you may qualify.

By doing your research ahead of time, you’ll find the perfect retirement home for your needs.

About the Author:

Danielle blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands she uses. She recently helped her grandmother find the perfect retirement home complete with a swimming pool and a very liberal pet policy. She visits her every Sunday afternoon to attend arts and crafts together.