Demonstrating a Commitment to Lifelong Learning
One of the richest and most rewarding aspects of being part of a Benchmark Senior Living community is that the learning never stops. Providing our residents with the resources to build upon various skills, traditions, and interests is essential to fulfilling their aspirations and desires. We make it a priority to provide lifelong-learning opportunities because it’s part of our culture at Benchmark. Most of our residents describe themselves as proud lifelong-learners, always eager to expand their knowledge. Living life to the fullest is at the heart of what we do at Benchmark.
How do we know what our residents want to learn about and experience? Using a special technology platform, we started a program called Something in Common, in which we gather information about our residents through in-depth, personal interviews about their lives, experiences and interests. From this, we learned that six percent of our residents were once teachers or educators, and a large portion of our residents attended colleges or universities and have demonstrated a commitment to strong, ongoing education. Pinpointing the interests of our residents and connecting them to others who share their passions often informs us of the need for new programming as well.
Along the way, we have found that those residents who are teachers are often our best lifelong-learning advocates. They frequently want to continue sharing their knowledge and educational backgrounds within their senior living communities, and they do this by offering classes and giving lectures to their peers in their own areas of expertise.
This is true not only within specific communities, but inside the entire Benchmark network as a whole. Meadow Ridge University was founded by a resident in one of our senior living communities in Connecticut. The platform offers both online and in-person college classes to all Benchmark residents, which has been offering over 30 college-level courses to over 750 residents for more than 10 years.
Sometimes lessons are less formal. Take Dr. Arthur Winston, a former physicist and graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who started a men’s discussion group in his Benchmark assisted living community where he covers a variety of topics relevant to his expertise or to the interests of the residents participating in his group, ranging from healthcare issues, to artificial intelligence. Another resident, Leigh Gray, who wrote a memoir in his retirement about suffering lifelong adversity because of Asperger’s syndrome, has held book readings and discussions in his Benchmark community.
Our educational programs are as diverse as our residents themselves, and this is by design. Some of these courses are taught by residents, and others are taught by educators that we welcome from the local community.
One long-time resident, Joan Weisman, says it best: “I think it’s most important to continue to learn as you grow older and to keep up with not only what’s going on in the world but with technology.” To help make learning accessible to everyone, we incorporate technology into our supportive services to help residents with hearing impairment participate in group courses and discussions, as well as offering the possibility for virtual discussions so that residents can still participate from their apartments when needed.
We continuously celebrate Dr. Winston’s, Leigh‘s, Joan’s, and many of our residents’ commitments to lifelong learning. We elevate and incorporate education into our culture so that as the world around us changes, we can continue to learn and grow.
Find out more about our exceptional programming and lifelong learning opportunities in a community that is right for you by scheduling a tour.