Tom Meuser, Ph.D., founding director of the University of New England Center for Excellence in Aging and Health (CEAH), was recently featured in an Education Dive article on college programming for older adults and the financial benefits for universities.
The number of adults age 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2060, and there has been a push from colleges and universities to expand their lifelong learning programs, according to the article.
Some institutions have met the challenge in establishing programs to help older adults navigate the next period of their lives. However, older adults have unique needs that need to be met, said Meuser, a professor of social work.
“Enrichment comes in the firsthand narrative learning of students and in the opportunity for older adults to give back from their knowledge," Meuser said. “Intergenerational learning is not one-directional. It really has to go both ways."
Institutions also need to choose their audience, Meuser said, whether that means tapping into their alumni bases or branching out into local communities. Schools with stronger alumni bases, larger endowments, and enthusiastic faculty may have an easier time attracting older applicants, he said.