In a society where ageism is prevalent, we may hold the belief or perception that “elderly” people no longer have interest in bettering or educating themselves. On the contrary, not only have older people accumulated innate wisdom, having gone through numerous experiences (both good and bad), but many work to stay active and curious in later years. Of note is that when we continue to learn, new brain cells develop, which indeed helps to forestall or even prevent dementia.
People over 65 make up less than one percent of U.S. college students, but their stories are inspiring. Janet Fein of Texas, who is 84 years old, is just now graduating from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. In her words, “I didn’t have anything to do in retirement, and I didn’t think that playing bingo was up to my speed.” Janet took part in a state program that allows people ages 65 and older to take up to six credit hours for free at public universities in Texas.
Janet said she wanted the degree “with all of my heart” and kept attending classes even as she transitioned from living on her own and driving, to needing a walker and oxygen. Eventually, she moved to a senior living facility. When her knees gave out, she did a semester of independent study and took online classes to fulfill her degree requirements.
At age 63, Jerry Valencia is a long way from a college degree, but he's not in a rush and is having the time of his life. Due to financial concerns he has had to take a pass on the present semester and reapply for next year. He hopes to earn enough money working on construction jobs and to get his student-loan papers in order.
In my case, at the ripe old age of 82, I am blessed with good health and a natural ability to write books and blogs. It also gives me great pleasure to teach others about enduring and overcoming life’s adversities in the best possible ways.
Dear reader, what are your thoughts and views about aging? How have you prepared for your “golden” years in the most productive and healthiest of ways? Comments are very welcome!