Engaging in lifelong learning can contribute to healthy aging

Local Elderhostel programs to offer senior citizens great adventures without travel

University Park, Pa. — Keeping mentally and physically active has been shown in studies to help contribute to good brain health as one gets older. Penn State Conferences, a unit of Outreach, has once again partnered with Elderhostel to offer central Pennsylvania senior citizens a dozen courses -- on subjects ranging from astronomy to golf to the Middle East -- taught by Penn State faculty and other experts.

"Engagement is the key to mental ability for senior citizens," said Kathy Pollard, the Elderhostel program coordinator for Penn State Conferences. She added: "These courses offer local seniors a great adventure to look forward to this summer without having to travel."

After two years of research, Elderhostel, the national organization that provides learning adventures for people aged 55 and over, found strong correlations between lifelong learning and its effect on healthy aging. Additional research studies cited in the New England Journal of Medicine and Time Magazine have suggested a decreased risk of dementia among seniors who actively participate in activities that stimulate both their minds and bodies.

This year's courses start in June at the University Park campus and include:

  • "Go Digital: Capture Your World With a Creative Eye -- Digital Photography for Everyone" (June 8–13)
  • "Experience the Arts at Penn State: Behind the Art of a Fine Museum and More" (June 8–13)
  • "Five Days With Penn State Scholars: Exploring the High-Tech Future" (June 22–27)
  • "Planets, Stars, Galaxies and the Universe" (June 15–20)
  • "Civilizations at War: Three Perspectives on Muslims, Peace in Israel and Espionage Around the Globe" (July 29–July 4)
  • "Sounds of Music: For Jazz, Ragtime and Classical Music Lovers" (July 6–11)
  • "Beginning Bridge" (July 13–18)
  • "Intermediate Social Bridge" (July 20–25)
  • "Join the Chorus of Fred Waring's America" (Aug. 10–15)
  • "A Golf School for All Who Want to Play the Game -- Get in the Swing with Coach Denise St. Pierre" (Aug. 17–22)
  • "How to Date an Antique: A Study and Appraisal of American Antiques" (Sept. 7–12)
  • "Majesty in the Mountains: Birding at Penn State's Nature Center" (Sept. 28–Oct. 3)

Interested participants can call (814) 863-1737, or go to http://www.outreach.psu.edu/programs/elderhostel for program information or to enroll.

Penn State Conferences plans and manages more than 300 programs each year, with enrollments of nearly 45,000. The programs represent the diversity and strength of Penn State's academic colleges and provide opportunities for many individuals to learn about the latest scholarship, research and developments in their fields or participate in enriching learning experiences. For more information, visit http://www.outreach.psu.edu/conference-planning/ online. Penn State Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009