Belmont’s lifelong learning courses promote brain health, healthy aging

Maintaining brain health and encouraging successful aging are behind Belmont Village’s foray into collaborations to provide lifelong learning opportunities to its senior living residents.

Belmont Village Senior Living Lakeway recently partnered with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), in collaboration with Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Austin, to offer onsite in-person and online learning sessions.

Sessions included “The Gothic Synthesis of Heaven and Earth in the Chartres Cathedral” by a Texas Tech history professor, and “The Supreme Court’s Decision-Making Process” by a Texas Tech political science instructor.

A Belmont Village spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living that the November session had about 40 attendees, with 10 additional virtual attendees via Zoom. The December event attracted 35 in-person attendees, with 12 additional virtual attendees.

“The feedback has been amazing, and people have been asking that we offer more than just a once-a-month event,” the spokeswoman said.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program is established at 125 colleges and universities, providing an array of non-credit courses and activities for adults 50 and older. The program is overseen by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The partnership with OLLI-Texas Tech will start up again in the spring. In the meantime, Belmont Village will continue its partnerships with OLLI and UT-Austin to offer hybrid six-week sessions, similar to a pilot the company launched in October.

The six-week virtual lecture in the fall was given by Mark Atwood Lawrence, a UT-Austin history professor who authored two books on Vietnam. That course had 15 to 20 residents in attendance weekly, learning about the history of US involvement in Vietnam, with particular attention to the origins, course and legacies of the war.

Partnerships provide resident educational options

Belmont Village also partnered for lifelong learning programming at its California communities through the University of California, Los Angeles, Senior Scholars program, part of its Longevity Center.

The October pilot offered access to online undergraduate courses for Belmont Village residents in its Hollywood, Westwood, Burbank, Encino, Aliso Viejo, La Jolla, Sunnyvale and Los Gatos communities in California, and its Scottsdale, AZ, community. Belmont Village CEO Patricia Will, the 2022 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award winner, serves on the UCLA Longevity Center board.

During the pilot, residents were offered access to courses on Women and Power in the Ancient World, the History of American Theater and Drama, and Introductory Screenwriting.

“It’s not just about living longer,” Will said in a statement. “This kind of mental and intellectual engagement improves cognitive function so that seniors can live better, more meaningful lives.”

Belmont Village Senior Living La Jolla earlier this year held a ribbon-cutting for a “Living Lab” to offer a dedicated space in  the community where volunteer residents can interact with University of California, San Diego, researchers on wellness initiatives.

Belmont also partnered with Baptist Health South Florida and the University of Southern California on enrichment programs for residents.

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