Aging Today: What is Lifelong Learning?

The script for this piece originally aired during WFSU’s Aging Today segment.

We tend to think of education as something we do early in life to prepare us for employment, but programs to give educational opportunities to older adults, often referred to as lifelong learning, have a different goal.

Rather than taking courses to gain employment credentials, lifelong learners aim to enhance their quality of life by exploring new ideas, making friends, and staying socially and mentally active.

Lifelong learning programs began more than 50 years ago and now include tens of thousands of programs serving millions of older adults. Their popularity stems from their many benefits. For example, a study comparing lifelong learning participants with non-participants found that the programs improved people’s emotional well-being and their views of aging.

Among the most well known of these programs is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or OLLI, which includes OLLI at FSU.

Learn more about lifelong learning and OLLI at

WFSU-FM Aging Today

The Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy – with support from the Claude Pepper Center, the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, and Osher Lifelong Learning at FSU – sponsors weekly “Aging Today” segments on 88.9, WFSU-FM NPR. Airing each Tuesday at 3:04pm, the one-minute segments highlight critical aging-related trends, issues, and policies, with an emphasis on social science research

Listen to archives of Aging Today segments at

The featured image is courtesy of OLLI at FSU.

Anne Barrett is Director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy and a Professor of Sociology. Her research areas include gender and aging, subjective aging, ageism, and cultural constructions of later life.

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