Age is Not a Barrier to Learning

February 23, 2018 - Paul Downey

This guest post is courtesy of Karen Weeks,

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; well, it’s a good thing you don’t walk on all fours! And despite the preconceived notion that older adults can’t learn new skills, science says otherwise. So, if you’re over 65 and want to play the guitar, do the tango, or delve into the inner workings of technology, the only thing stopping you is… you.

From the Comfort of Home

When you want to learn something new, look no further than your PC, phone, or tablet. We’ve yet to find a skill that isn’t taught online. This means you can get down with modern dance from the privacy of your closed-curtain living room if that’s what you want. Or grab a group of your favorite folks and practice the downward dog right from your TV. Xfinity and many other major cable providers offer free or paid access to fitness classes On Demand.

Here are a few suggestions of the many different things you can learn from home:

Automobile History

Even if you’re already an enthusiast, this fascinating lecture collection from Stanford will give you a better understanding of how automobiles have shaped and been shaped by the last century.


Brought to you by Yale University, this YouTube course, which was first recorded in 2008 but continues to be a popular topic for students, will help you attain a deeper understanding of financial institutions and their role in civilized society.

Science and Food

You’ve probably never thought of your time in the kitchen as a science experiment but it is. This Harvard University video playlist will teach you what you need to know about the science behind everything from cheese to risotto to which culinary thickening agents are best for different cooking conditions.


The Open Learning Initiative, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, offers open courses in languages including Arabic, French, Chinese, and Spanish. At time of publication, Elementary French I offers a free sample class with the option to upgrade for $10 to a self-guided independent learner full course.


Equipboard, an online community centered on the tools and gear used by professional artists and industry influencers, notes that music education doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The best online guitar lessons, according to the site, range from free to just over $30 per month.

Computer Programming

If you want to know what all the fuss is about where technology is concerned, consider taking an entry-level web or app coding class. LinkedIn is a great resource for developer courses and offers a free month trial and unlimited access to more than 6,000 courses for $25 per month.

First Aid

Having the crucial skills to offer assistance in case of an emergency is important for people of all ages. The American Red Cross offers online first-aid classes that will help you help your friends and family until first responders arrived.


Maybe you’re already a knitter and want to learn how to dye your own yarn, or maybe you’ve never picked up a needle before. Either way, has you covered with classes ranging from $10-$60. In the course of a day, you can learn to knit your own socks or create stunning designs to flatter any figure.

It doesn’t matter what you want to learn — there is a class for you just waiting on the World Wide Web. You don’t have to have extensive technical knowledge or a huge budget, but you do need a willingness to learn, the desire to better yourself, and occasionally, the patience to put up with a slow internet connection.

About Karen:

We’re never too old to learn a new skill. And I’m living proof of that! After I retired, I decided to learn how to design websites and created It’s certainly a work in progress, but it reminded me how fun and gratifying it can be to learn a new skill. Now, I’m hoping to spread the word. Winter, when it’s more difficult for many of us older folks to get out and about, is a great time to start learning a new skill, whether it’s online or with a group of friends.

Women & Retirement – Part 3: Employers Have the Power to Improve the Future of our Female Workforce

October 29, 2013 - Serving Seniors

It is no secret that women face more difficulties in retirement than men. While women have a few options available to increase their nest egg themselves; employers can play an integral role to improve the lives of our female workforce and our society as a whole.


For example, as an employer you can:

  • End the wage gap that contributes to lower lifetime earnings for women.
  • Provide more flexibility to make it easier for caregivers to work and care for their loved ones.
  • Offer opportunities in the workplace for women to learn about retirement savings.
  • Make more aggressive contributions to prepare for their long-term retirement needs.

It is never too early to get educated about retirement or offer retirement planning classes at the workplace. Our society is in great danger trying to take care of a rapidly growing retirement population who does not have enough savings to survive without intervention.

At Senior Community Centers, we work with seniors who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness and too often our case workers hear the following: “I wish I would have started saving sooner.” or “I wish I would have known.”

Do your part to prepare for your future and start now.

Women & Retirement – Part 2: How Women (and Men) can Better Prepare for Retirement

October 22, 2013 - Serving Seniors

Taking last week’s factors of Why Do Women face more Difficulties in Retirement than Men into consideration, it is no wonder women are facing a retirement crisis.

Given women’s median retirement age of 61, women should be planning on a 30-year retirement — or even longer. So what can women do to manage their money and make certain they have enough to get them to the finish line?


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  • Make retirement savings a priority. Put yourself first and put away money each month to plan for the future – even if that means to forego saving for your kids’ college education. Save for your future to avoid being a burden to your kids in your old age.
  • Take advantage of your company’s 401(k) and other retirement saving options. Pre-tax savings that are taken straight from your paycheck won’t be missed. If your company has a matching program, be certain to take advantage of it.
  • Keep one foot in the door. You may have responsibilities at home, but don’t stay out of work too long. Every year you don’t work can rob you of an opportunity to contribute to retirement plans and potentially lower your future Social Security check. Full-time homemakers should take other steps to protect their financial futures.
  • Get educated about money. Once you’re retired, you’re playing for keeps. If you make a mistake with your money, you’re much less likely to be able to recover than during your working years.

Women who prepare now will thank themselves down the road. A great place to start is to visit AARP’s Decide Create Share website, which provides information on retirement planning. Find out next week what employers can do to ease the difficulties that our aging retirees face.

The full article first appeared in the San Diego Daily Transcript – September 2013 edition.

Women & Retirement – Part 1: Why Do Women face more Difficulties in Retirement than Men?

October 16, 2013 - Serving Seniors

With a longer life expectancy than men, women tend to live longer in retirement and have a greater chance of outliving their retirement nest egg. Women are 71 percent more likely than men to live below the poverty line in retirement. Here in San Diego, 50 percent of senior women lack enough income to meet their basic needs, compared to 35 percent of men. Find out some of the reasons below:


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  • Women spend less time working. While men spend 44 years in the workforce, women only work 32 year according to the Social Security Administration. Fewer working years means less opportunity to save for retirement and build Social Security benefits.
  • Women take more time out of the office. Not only are women more likely to stay home and raise their kids, but they are also more likely to be caregivers to family members. Seven out of 10 unpaid caregivers are women, according to AARP.
  • Women earn less. Yes, there has been more equality over the years, but the reality is women earn 79 percent of what men are paid weekly, according figures published in January 2013 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Women are not saving enough. Because women take home less than men, not only is it hard to save money, but they are also more risk-averse in their retirement planning. According to the SaveUp U.S. Consumer Savings and Debt Report release this year, men have 28.8 percent more than women in their 401 (k) plans and 72 percent more in their IRAs.

These striking statistics are intimidating and it is never too early to get ready for retirement. Find out next week what women can do to better prepare for their golden years. 

The full article first appeared in the San Diego Daily Transcript – September 2013 edition.

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