Skip to main content

If affordable, continuing education a healthy choice

August 23, 2012

Many seniors choose to make continuing education part of healthy aging, and while the benefits of an active mind are well known, some experts have been wary about whether the cost of such classes is worth the payout. Though some may encounter problems, according to The Huffington Post, a number of retirement-age students are likely to enjoy the experience.

One success story is Lisa Miller, who headed back to school and eventually earned a bachelor's degree in clinical laboratory science. While many other older adults go back to the classroom for mental stimulation rather than to earn a degree, Miller said it was that activity that may have made the process the most rewarding.

"The real treat for me was the education, attending classes, focusing all of my energy on learning what I want to learn and not working, even part-time," she told the news source.

While money may be a concern for some older students, many colleges in the United States have recognized that lifelong learning is a cornerstone of healthy aging, and let seniors audit classes for free. In fact, many states, including Florida, Rhode Island and Alaska, offer adults over 60 the opportunity to waive tuition at public schools.

Mentally-stimulating activity, whether in the classroom or in retirement communities, is one of the best ways to maintain cognitive function later in life. There is ample compelling evidence to support the theory, but some of the most convincing comes from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found older adults who participated in games such as chess and cards or played a musical instrument were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.