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.

Active Aging Week September 25 – October 1

September 23, 2016 - Serving Seniors

Active Aging Week was started in 2003 by the International Council on Active Aging. The international event celebrates aging and active living by engaging older adults in wellness activities in a safe, friendly and fun atmosphere. Here are a few of our favorite tips to help seniors live a more active lifestyle:


  1. Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet can be the key to living longer and stronger. Eat nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Avoid sweet, salty, and highly processed foods. Also, watch out for dehydration. Keep in mind that each person has different dietary needs. Follow your doctor’s suggestions regarding dietary restrictions.
  1. Stay active in a way that’s fun for you. There are so many ways to get in some daily movement. Consider walking with a group of friends, learning how to dance, going for a hike, or walking a pet. The possibilities are endless. Find activities that are both meaningful and enjoyable for you.
  1. Try meditation and practice mindfulness. Daily Meditation is a mood boosting way to remain present and focused through connectedness and relaxation. Taking time to include meditation in your daily routine can lead to greater quality of life and positivity, all while reducing anxiety and lessening stress.
  1. Learn a new skill. It’s never too late to master something new, and it keeps your mind sharp, too! Try learning a new skill that requires concentration, creative thinking and memorization, 4-learn-a-new-skill-2like chess, crossword puzzles, or writing poetry. Discover a foreign language, play a musical instrument, read, or listen to a Ted Talk.
  1. Make Community Connections. Older adults who engage in meaningful community activities report feeling healthier. Boost happiness and join us at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center. Remember that participating in activities should be fun, not stressful, so choose activities that appeal most to you! Check out what’s happening this month.
  1. Practice fall prevention. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, you can prevent falls and injury—a leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors. Complete a home safety checklist, take Vitamin D and Calcium, remove loose carpets or throw rugs, use night lights throughout hallways, and keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.7-invite-more-laughter-into-your-life

7. Invite more laughter into your life. It’s true what they say: Daily dose of laughter is good for your health. Reenergize with humor and play. Consider casual social events with friends. Call an old friend or introduce yourself to someone new. Share jokes, funny stories, or watch a comedy, and enjoy the lightness that comes from a little bit of daily laughter.

Learn more about Active Aging Week from the International Council on Active Aging 

Serving Seniors Community Partner Named Behavioral Health Person of the Year

May 29, 2014 - Serving Seniors

Serving Seniors has developed an extensive network of over 30 providers and collaborative partners to extend and enhance the services we provide. Partners include educational institutions such as San Diego State University, UC San Diego, University of San Diego and Cal Western School of Law. We also partner with health care agencies such as Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and Mission Home Health to provide health screenings and assessments. Partners utilize space at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center or one of our other facilities, allowing seniors to have access to these importance services in one location.

Carol Photo 3

Carol Neidenberg, one of our wonderful community partners, is being presented with the Behavioral Health Person of the Year award on May 30 for her commitment and leadership as a champion against the stigma of mental illness. Carol is the Program Manager for the Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy. Carol and her team have worked with Serving Seniors for over 10 years to promote the wellbeing of low-income seniors using the organization’s computer labs and offering assistance with health care, public benefits and legal problems. Carol is a well-known advocate for the rights of mental health clients, the homeless and older adults. We appreciate Carol’s hard work and dedication to Serving Seniors over the past decade.

If you have a program that would benefit our senior clients and would like to partner with us, please contact Maureen Piwowarski at or (619) 487-0610.


Great News: The Virtual Senior Center is up and running!

November 7, 2013 - Serving Seniors

Life just became a lot more fun and rewarding for 45 home-bound seniors in San Diego. With the financial support of Selfhelp and Aging and Independent Services and in cooperation with OASIS and San Diego Futures Foundation, Senior Community Centers launched the long-anticipated Virtual Senior Center last month.

As a pilot program in only three US cities, Senior Community Centers is honored to provide the necessary services to make this program a success.


Home-bound seniors – most of which receive home delivered meals from Senior Community Centers – have been equipped with a user friendly computer screen in their homes that lets them connect to other seniors and participate in a variety of classes such as: yoga; book club; meet the nurse; senior resources; civic engagement; senior advocacy and policy; healthier living; computer training; sports recap; current events; etc. Participants will also be able to attend classes offered in Chicago and New York City that are also part of the pilot program.

The goals of this exciting new program include:

  • Increase socialization opportunities
  • Increase mental fitness
  • Decrease depression
  • Lower the number of health care visits and emergency services

Stay tuned for updates from our initial group of participants. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Laura Stevens at 619.487.0739.

Conversations in Health Care – How Technology is Advancing Senior Care

August 2, 2013 - Paul Downey


West Health is a leader in innovative approaches to lowering health care cost and Senior Community Centers is a proud partner to work towards that common goal. As part of the West Health Institute IDEA Series, I served as a panelist to discuss how advances in technology could change health care for a rapidly growing senior population.

Read more here or click the picture to watch a video of the discussion.

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