By BETTY CARLISLE
Special to The Gazette
Local resources are available to offer the opportunity for seniors to earn an A+ in the subject of lifelong learning and to test the theory that growing old happens only when learning stops.
Thomas Callahan of Lodi believed an aging mind need not be a mandatory requirement of senior citizenship and enrolled in Ohioâ€™s 60-plus Program at the University of Akron and at Kent State University.
â€œI thought Iâ€™d give it a shot and took a class in fiction writing at the Wayne Campus of the University of Akron,â€ said Callahan, a 78-year-old who began classes when he was 70 years old. â€œIt was not that difficult to keep up.â€
â€œSome seniors might be a little hesitant about sitting in college classes with 20-year-olds, but donâ€™t be frightened,â€ he said, adding that he was never shut out of a class and often there were one or two additional senior citizens in the class. â€œAt this time in our lives we have become used to meeting deadlines and, if you are motivated, itâ€™s not difficult.â€
Callahan embraced the lessons learned from his college coursework and writes both fiction and non-fiction to document events in his life for his family. Several years ago, he copped a prize for â€œA Sunny Sunday Afternoon,â€ his entry in The Gazetteâ€™s Senior Living writing contest.
The 60-plus Program was approved by Ohio lawmakers in 1999 to provide Ohio residents age 60 or older with the opportunity to attend public university and college classes without paying tuition and general service fees. Those participating in the 60-plus Program are expected to pay for books, lab fees and parking if applicable.
â€œRegistration is on a space available basis, but often weâ€™ll ask for permission, if the class is full, for a 60-plus student to get in,â€ explained Linda Motley, coordinator of the University of Akronâ€™s 60-plus Program, adding that students may audit a maximum of 11 credit hours per semester for non-credit.
â€œBaby boomers are retiring earlier, feeling healthier and living longer,â€ Motley said. â€œThere are a plethora of opportunities for those who want to take classes for fun or to learn something new.â€
â€œ60-plus students are taking art classes, writing books, learning a foreign language and taking classes in the humanities for fun now that they can take the time to enjoy and appreciate it,â€ she said.
Medina County University Center
â€œWe welcome individuals who are interested in the 60-plus Program at the Medina County University Center,â€ said Denise Testa, associate director of the newly opened MCUC located at 6300 Technology Lane, near state Route 162 in Lafayette Township.
â€œThey must submit an application for admission and register for classes. One week before classes begin, weâ€™ll check to see if classes are full before we make decisions. And thereâ€™s no charge for parking at our campus.â€
Medina County Career Center
â€œWe encourage seniors to come to the Medina County Career Center,â€ said Teresa Arnold, secretary of Adult Education a MCCC located at 1101 W. Liberty St. â€œThose 55 years and older receive a 10 percent discount for any class.â€
Benefits the brain
Dr. Paul Nussbaum, director of the Aging Research and Education Center in Pitts-burgh, has compared education as important to the brain as physical exercise is to the heart.
Ben H. Carlisle walks daily at the Medina Community Recreation Center to keep his legs strong and has discovered the benefits of exercising both his heart and brain at the same time.
â€œI download podcasts from the Apple iTunes store,â€ said the 88-year-old retired engineer, explaining that he listens to economics and American history podcasts on his Nano iPod while he walks. â€œSurprisingly, the walking has helped me mentally as well. I found I could handle mental problems that I previously could not. Listening to these lectures has kept my mind active and interested.â€
Carlisle began taking piano lessons several years ago, which led him to purchase a keyboard and to practice playing it for at least half an hour daily.
â€œI find the exercise to be both mentally stimulating and good physical exercise for my hands,â€ he said. â€œThe resulting music is not all that good, but, hey, Iâ€™m the only one listening.â€
â€œWhen much younger, I owned and flew light planes,â€ Carlisle said. â€œThe powers that be wonâ€™t let me fly alone anymore, but I can still fly a plane with an instructor. I practice take-offs and landings, or hip-hop from one small airport to another for an hour or so every week. Itâ€™s a great mental and physical exercise and a confidence builder.â€
And when someone asks Carlisle if he still drives a car, he responds by saying, â€œYou bet, and, not only that, I still fly an airplane.
Carlisle is a freelance writer from Medina. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.