How Universities and Organizations are Helping Older Adults in Philadelphia Stay Brain Healthy

By Etta Hornsteiner
September 2nd, 2019 Health & Wellness No Comments
happy older adult just graduated

According to Alzheimer’s Association, one way to keep the brain healthy “is to get as much formal education as you can, at any point in life. Formal education is classroom-based learning administered by professionally trained teachers. Engaging in this type of education will help keep your brain healthy and may protect your brain from developing dementia. This could involve taking a class at a local college or community center that teaches a new topic, skill or hobby (e.g., learning a language or how to play an instrument).” Or it could involve taking a class online. There are multiple opportunities both online and classroom-based provided by universities and organizations for older adults in Philadelphia to help you remain brain healthy for life.

Before you think how expensive taking a course or returning to school can be, here are some online educational sites that offer courses for free.

Free Online Courses for Older Adults

Coursera is an educational portal offering universal access to the world’s best educational institutions. One can take a course from top universities and organizations around the world. They offer courses in arts and humanities, personal development, language learning, for example. Visit their website here.

Edx is very similar to Coursera in that it also offers free online courses from the world’s best universities and institutions, such as Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Microsoft, Tsinghua University, The Smithsonian, and more. They offer courses in philanthropy, language, food and nutrition, earth science and more. You can learn about more of their courses here.

Khan Academy offers classes for free for the student, teacher, principal or senior returning to the classroom. Check out their array of courses here.

Paid Online Courses for Older Adults

Udemy is also an online learning platform, which offers a variety of courses for professional adults and students. You can take classes in business such as real estate, finance such as in investing in stocks, personal development such as stress management, design such as interior design and more. To learn more about Udemy, visit their website.

Coursera’s courses can be audited for free, but there are some courses, which are paid. For example, if you want a course certificate, which you can post to your Linkedin account, this would cost you $49. They also offer financial aid.

Free Courses at Physical Locations

Through its Go-60 Program, Penn State offers older adults 60+ an opportunity to take college courses—up to six credits per semester for free at many of the university’s 24 locations.


  • Pennsylvania resident, former Penn State student, past employee of Penn State
  • Retired/Part-time

Below are a list of some of Penn State University campuses.

Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington – 

Contact Info: 215.881.7300

Abington GO-60 Program.


Penn State Altoona 

Penn State Altoona –

Contact Info: 814.949.5000

Altoona GO-60 Program.


Penn State Behrend

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College –

Contact Info: 814.898.6000

Erie GO-60 Program.


image of a building representing universities and organizations for older adults

Penn State Harrisburg

Penn State Harrisburg –

Contact Info: 717.948.6250

Harrisburg GO-60 Program.


Penn State Lehigh Valley

Penn State Lehigh Valley –

Contact Info: 610.285.5000

Lehigh Valley GO-60 Program.


Penn State Mont Alto

Penn State Mont Alto –

Contact Info: 717.749.6000

State Mont Alto GO-60 Program.


Penn State Schuylkill

Penn State Schuylkill –

Contact Info: 570.385.6000

Schuylkill GO-60 Program.


Penn State Shenango

Penn State Shenango –

Contact Info: 724.983.2856

Shenango GO-60 Program.

Free to paid classes for older adults 50+

The Bernard Osher Foundation, started in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader, provides funding for more than 100 “Lifelong Learning” programs at educational institutes for adults 50+.

These programs cover an array of topics. For instance, a lifelong learning class at Marywood University in Discovering your Dreaming Mind costs $45 as a member.

Center for Lifelong Learning

Senior Community Services,

Delaware County

Delaware County


Center for Learning in Retirement

Delaware Valley University



Lifelong Learning Institute]

Immaculata University


LifeLong Learning Institute

 Institute for Lifelong Learning

Bucknell University



Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Carnegie Mellon University



Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Temple University



Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

University of Pittsburgh



Seniors Collegeolder adults learning

Alvernia University



Lifelong Learning Institute

Marywood University



Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park

Aging in Place Educational Program


Friends Life Care, a Philadelphia home-based company that supports seniors who want to thrive independently in their own home, offers various membership packages along with health and wellness educational classes and workshops through their program called VigR® Vitality, Independence, Growth, Resilience™.  Generally, the wellness classes are free to their members who sign up for them.

Take Advantage of Tax breaks

Don’t forget to take advantage of educational tax breaks. Keep track of your educational expenses including textbooks and other supplies. For more information, consult the IRS website.

Research has shown that new brain cells—neurons—are connected to learning, and that the adult brain can grow new neurons. Growth, then, can be considered synonymous with aging. We begin to age visibly the minute we are born. Learning is essential for our survival and livelihood.  So why should it not continue as long as we are breathing? Even in our retirement, we should make space to continue to learn. Our universities and different organizations have made the space for us. Let’s use these spaces and continue to change our corner of the world by staying brain healthy.


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