In the United States, the average life expectancy is 76 years for men and 81 years for women. More people are living to be 85 years old and older and the number of Americans living to be 100 or older continues to climb.
With more good years – and even decades – ahead, we have the opportunity to continue to learn new things, stay physically active and be socially engaged. And such life enrichment helps us remain healthy and productive in our elder years.
Lifelong learning and life enrichment feeds and nurtures our physical, intellectual, social and spiritual wellness. Here in Western North Carolina, several institutions offer high-quality, life-enhancing programs for older adults. By their very nature, all of these programs offer opportunities for socialization, volunteering, community building, life planning and networking. They can broaden your world, open your mind to new possibilities for your life and ensure your upcoming years are rich and meaningful.
1. BLUE RIDGE CENTER FOR LIFELONG LEARNING (BRCLL)
Located on Blue Ridge Community College’s Flat Rock campus, BRCLL offers a full slate of enrichment and educational programming. Participants can select from courses on a wide variety of topics includingU.S., international and Appalachian history, current affairs, technology, literature and more.The program also hosts occasional brown bag lunches on various topics and has launched a new series called “For Your Health” which brings in various medical professionals to discuss topics related to healthy aging. BRCLL’sEdVentures (Educational Adventures) program sponsors motor coach trips to local and regional places of interest and self-drive trips to tour local industries.
2. LIFE@ WESTERN CAROLINA
A program of Western Carolina University (WCU), LIFE@ offers noncredit classes for adults 50 years old and older. Courses range in topics from history and culture to health and science to geopolitical and legal issues. Current and retired WCU faculty, as well as other experts in their fields, teach classes. Membership in the program includes 24 weekly sessions from September through April. Lectures are from 10 am to noon on Tuesdays at the Cullowhee campus and on Thursdays at the Biltmore Park instructional site.
3. OSHER LIFELONG LEARNING CENTER (OLLI)
A nationally acclaimed learning community for older adults, the Osher Lifelong Learning Center at UNC-Asheville offers opportunities for lifelong learning, leadership, community service and continued growth in a variety of settings. Founded in 1988 as the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, OLLI’s programming includes intellectual and cultural pursuits as well as social, physical and practical life courses such as life transition and retirement relocation planning, including its Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend (CREW). OLLI’s College for Seniors (CFS) program offers more than 350 courses in four terms every year.