Lifelong learning has started to become a priority when older adults begin to plan for their future. In fact, according to a survey in 2017, Assessing Consumer Interest in University-Based Retirement Communities, priorities among Americans over 65 when moving to a retirement community affiliated with a college or university showed the following results:
- 49% wanted the retirement community to be nearby the college or university
- 45% wanted shared programming with a college or university
- 18% wanted a financial relationship between the retirement community and the college or university
- 12% wanted a resident alumni base at the retirement community
Fortunately, life plan communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs) are starting to adopt the new trend of partnering with nearby universities to provide lifelong learning opportunities to residents at little to no cost. Retirement communities can be affiliated with colleges and universities in many different ways and to various degrees.
The Admiral at the Lake Partnership with the University of Chicago
When Toni, a resident at The Admiral at the Lake, was asked “What does lifelong learning mean to you?”, she promptly responded: “Continuing to use your mind to enrich your experiences, learn about new things and more about old things. It keeps your mind engaged!”
There are so many choices of colleges and universities in Chicago. When Toni moved to The Admiral at the Lake in 2014, she immediately became interested in the lifelong learning program. She found there was room for improvement in the program and joined The Admiral at the Lake’s Lifelong Learning Committee, where she eventually became the committee chair. Through a mutual acquaintance, Toni was able to start a partnership with the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.
How Does the Partnership Work?
As chair of the lifelong learning committee, Toni asks the Graham School to send a list of current course offerings that can be shortened to a duration of four weeks or turned into a seminar. To decide which courses to select, Toni surveys the residents at The Admiral to find out which courses would interest them.
In 2017, The Admiral and the Graham School at the University provided two seminars: Liberal Arts and American Democracy and Self-Evident Truths - Origin Myths and the Founding of America. They also provided two four-week courses: Introduction to Islam and Islam of the West. The classes were provided at little cost to the residents and were hosted by The Admiral so the residents didn’t have to go off-site to attend.
Other Lifelong Learning Opportunities in Chicago
Toni was able to find other means of learning in Chicago as well. In 2017, The Admiral hosted a multitude of speakers from the Oriental Institute, the Field Museum, the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Adler Planetarium, as well as two programs on classical music with the former president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Every Tuesday and Friday, Our Great Courses DVDs are presented to residents and are well attended. These DVDs are borrowed and given to The Admiral by residents. Some topics that have been covered include Optimizing Brain Fitness, A Skeptic’s Guide to American History, World’s Greatest Geological Wonders and German Opera History just to name a few.
“Everybody learns differently,” Toni stated. “ I actually hated lectures in school. I find lectures here are relatively short and easy to follow. I don’t like reading on the computer, but others find webinars easy to follow. I have found people at The Admiral like to interact. So, they don’t just want a lecture, they want an opportunity to ask questions and have a conversation about what they are learning.”
Inspired to Continue Learning
Learning is constant through all stages of life—the desire to learn remains strong at any age.
“If you look at the history of mankind, we have always been curious about what was going on around us. There has to be some innate desire to learn,” Toni said.
The Admiral at the Lake provides an engaging atmosphere of learning and values the connection with the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, along with all the other opportunities for learning in Chicago.