Shimer College, a small undergraduate community on Chicago’s South side, recently announced that they will offer free classes to Chicago seniors (age 60 and older). Course titles range from basic Latin to The Films of Stanley Kubrick.
Studies suggest that staying active, both cognitively and physically, throughout mid life and retirement can lead to a longer life and lower the likelihood of developing dementia. For those seniors who may be timid about reentering the classroom, they can take comfort in knowing that Shimer College is centered on fostering a collaborative, intimate educational environment.
In an August 18 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Shimer representative Isabella Winkler spoke about the importance of bringing diverse perspectives into the classroom. She told Tribune reporter, Jodi S. Cohen, "It is always valuable to have generational differences. We wanted to open the classes to senior residents who might have a desire to get involved in this sort of conversation."
Beyond the benefits of staying mentally and physically active there are significant advantages for seniors who sustain and active social life.
A recent study published in BMC Geriatrics concludes that, “The evidence provided by numerous observational studies on the protective effects of social relationships on mortality is solid enough to develop and evaluate interventions which promote social networks and support of the elderly population.”
As more and more baby boomers approach retirement, chances are there will be an increase in institutions, such as Shimer offering opening their doors to the senior population.