Learning throughout your life can positively impact your health and even give you a more youthful mindset.
A 2020 study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B found that older adults learning a variety of skills during the same time period increased cognitive abilities to levels similar to adults 30 years younger.
Plus, it can be a lot of fun to take classes to learn new skills or sharpen existing ones. Classes enable seniors to connect with peers, discover new passions and feel a sense of accomplishment.
All of this can also positively impact self-esteem. A study published in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences found that lifelong learning can lead to self-fulfillment.
The World Health Organization even includes learning and growing as part of a person’s ability to age healthily. There are tons of learning opportunities for seniors in enjoyable classes. Here is more about classes for senior citizens.
Free Online Classes for Senior Citizens
Senior citizens can take classes right from home in free online courses. You can start by searching for the topic you’re interested in and “free online class” and see what comes up in a search engine.
There are also lots of topics to study through education sites like Coursera, Udemy and edX. Many courses will enable you to get a certificate upon completion or pay for certification if you want to go beyond auditing the class. Colleges ranging from Harvard University to Yale University offer classes on sites like these, with courses taught by the same professors you’ll find on campus.
Speaking of free classes online, there are also free computer classes for senior citizens. These classes teach computer basics, like typing, social media and computer programs like Microsoft Word. Check out resources from Techboomers and Teach an Old Dog New Tricks to search for useful free online computer classes for senior citizens.
Community College Classes for Seniors
You don’t need to pursue a degree to attend class at your local community college. There are lots of adult learning opportunities in areas like foreign language, culinary arts, film and more. You can take one class at a time to learn what interests you.
Classes at community colleges typically start all year-round, in fall, spring and summer semesters. There are always new options being added to course offerings, with a variety of course lengths as short as a few weeks. Search your local community college or connect with a student advisor to find classes on topics that interest you.
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Art Classes for Senior Citizens
Both computer use and artistic participation can reduce mild cognitive impairment (MCI) for older adults. A study published in Neurology found that the risk of MCI was reduced for adults ages 85 and older who engaged in artistic and craft activities in midlife and late life, as well as who reported computer use in late life. The study also found social activities, like taking a class with others, were associated with decreased risk of MCI.
Arts and crafts classes provide both artistic benefits and social benefits when you attend them in person. Check out venues like senior centers, libraries, art galleries and art studios in your area to find free or inexpensive classes.
Cooking Classes for Senior Citizens
Cooking at home is associated with more balanced eating and better nutrition, compared to eating takeout or at restaurants.
There are also mental benefits to cooking, just like partaking in art activities. Cooking relieves stress and provides continuous learning opportunities as you master recipes, discover how to use ingredients and experiment with kitchen tools.
You can find cooking classes in your community, sometimes held at grocery stores, at kitchen supply stores like Sur la Table and at independent venues. Search “cooking class” and your city online to find options.
There are also cooking classes available online that you can take at home. For example, “Top Chef” winner Melissa King frequently hosts live digital classes, where you can ask her questions throughout class and chat with other participants.
Many food bloggers also post videos of their recipes. For example, Maangchi specializes in Korean cooking and presents a full video to follow along for most recipes.
Fitness Classes for Senior Citizens
Fitness helps keep you healthy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that senior citizens get at least two days of muscle-strengthening exercise a week and at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 1.25 hour vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. There are lots of low-impact options to choose from, like walking, swimming and yoga, that you can add to your weekly exercise mix.
If you’re interested in a particular type of activity, search locally or online to find classes. For example, you might be interested in water aerobics, Zumba or ballet classes for senior citizens. You can also look at specialty studios in your area, like dance and yoga studios, to see if they offer senior-specific classes.
Senior centers are a great place to start your search for fitness classes. They also typically have gyms for lifting weights and personal trainers who specialize in working with seniors.
Get Access to Classes in a Senior Living Community
A convenient way to gain access to a variety of classes is to live in a senior living community where classes are always on the calendar. There are active senior lifestyle communities that have gyms and fitness classes, classes for subjects like art and technology, cooking classes and more. Find out more about communities near you.
Most senior living communities offer a variety of classes and events for their residents. Many of these communities are happy to extend their calendar events to local seniors