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Seniors Embrace Lifelong Learning at Retirement Communities

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., While lifelong learning opportunities are being embraced by universities across the country, many confine their classes to traditional classroom settings.

Others are more progressive and see learning opportunities and their ability to reach students beyond the campus. There are partnerships with senior living communities which offer lifelong learning to residents at their communities while also expanding lifelong learning opportunities to the general public.

Two communities can be found in Miami-Dade County: The Palace Coral Gables (www.PalaceCoralGables.com) and The Palace Suites (www.ThePalace.org) which have a partnership with the University of Miami’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Each month, a series is selected by the community’s lifestyle director. A speaker comes to the community on a designated day and time. Paid for by the community, the sessions are complimentary for residents. These programs are also used as community marketing events and to build goodwill. There is no charge for the general public to attend and The Palace communities host a luncheon following the discussion.

Recently, Palace residents have studied “Great Men of History” with instructor Robert Dawson who assumes the role of the person he’s portraying—complete with costume—bringing history to life. Dawson is known for his portrayals of Claude Monet, August Rodin and Paul Gauguin.

“Our residents flock to these events because he makes learning so much fun,” said Adam Rosenblum, vice president of marketing for The Palace Group, owners of the retirement communities. “There was an expressed desire by residents for lectures with greater level of intellectual stimulation. As the consumer has changed, our social programming has had to exceed their expectations. Through our partnerships, we can bring stimulating lectures to residents without their leaving the community.”

At The Carlisle Naples (www.TheCarlisleNaples.com), a senior retirement community located in Naples, Fla., a similar partnership with the Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning at Hodges University is underway. The Center offers over 250 classes annually and takes these classes on the road as well.

In October, instructor Frank Berna will come to The Carlisle Naples and conduct a workshop on “Beyond Snapshots and Making Better Photographs.” This is complimentary to Carlisle residents.

Senior living communities structure lifelong learning opportunities differently as it suits the individual community and a university’s program. While some are complimentary, others change a nominal fee.