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Do you offer courses related to preparing for retirement?

Posted on August 23rd, 2013 by Anne Cardale, OLLI National Resource Center

Janie Spencer, OLLI at The University of Montana , Asks OLLI: Do you offer courses related to preparing for retirement?

Does your OLLI offer courses or a series of courses related to preparing for retirement – a sort of road map … including but not limited to the areas of financial literacy, health care, and legal issues?

10 Responses to “Do you offer courses related to preparing for retirement?”


  1. We do offer a few courses from time to time in this genre, mostly wellness related (meditation, healthy joints, etc.) but a few years ago decided to not offer programs on, as Kali so aptly put it one time, “how to get old” - we saw a long line forming of retirement/financial advisors who wanted to ‘have at’ our Osher members, and also realized that while retirement/financial advice is easily available, the liberal arts/academic topics that we mostly focus on is not so readily available, so that is the focus we mainly stick with.

  2. #2 by: Anne Cardale

    This comment was posted of behalf of:
    Ann Nikolai, Program Director, OLLI @ CSU, Chico

    Janie, we partner with an organization on campus called PASSAGES, dedicated to helping older adults and family caregivers lead healthier, happier, and more rewarding lives by providing and supporting critical services, referrals, and community resources they need. Representatives from PASSAGES lead workshops for our members several times a year and are listed in our class schedule. Last spring, for example, PASSAGES offered a workshop in our OLLI classroom on long-term care and caregiving. This fall, 63 members have already enrolled in “What’s New with Medicare in 2014?”

    We’ve also taken a page out of OLLI at UC Santa Cruz’ book on Special Interest Groups (SIGs), popular I know with many of the OLLI institutes. For the first time last spring we offered a SIG on personal finance and investments that was so popular, it is being offered again this fall. Maybe this isn’t the best example of a SIG because it is actually being offered in one of our large classrooms, with a host of guest experts from the industry who lead off each meeting. The remainder of the class, however, is a discussion and open forum for sharing personal and professional experience among members of the group. A hybrid class of sorts, but a popular one and good format for engaging members as well as providing expert insight in key areas. In addition, Gary Salberg, Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving at CSU, Chico, was one of the guest lecturers for this group. We have since built a relationship with Mr. Salberg that is guiding and informing our first annual fundraising campaign.

    Finally, we offered last spring for the first time a class on Estate Planning, led by a local attorney. There was some initial concern about solicitation of members for her professional gain; however, this particular peer leader has been active in the organization and is very sensitive to the ethics of the organization. She leads 3 sessions in Chico and also in Oroville and Paradise, where two of our new chapters have just opened. Her classes have reached full capacity within the first two weeks of registration last spring (first time offered) and again this fall.


  3. UNF OLLI has offered (and will this Fall) a class entitled “Successful Life Transitions” that takes a global look at decisions surrounding retirement, divorce, health/long term care and the passing of a spouse. We also offer courses focused on financial planning, the implications of the Affordable Health Care Act and the like.


  4. Here at OLLI at UNC Asheville, we have offered “classes on how to be old” to our local audience through a variety of courses in the College for Seniors (our lifelong learning program) and through programs aimed at a national audience through our Paths to Creative Retirement workshops (http://olliasheville.com/paths-creative-retirement) and Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend focused on the issue of relocation in retirement (http://olliasheville.com/creative-retirement-exploration-weekend). We even added a couple of programs for our local audience this year, “The Gift of Time” about end of life planning and “Exploring CCRCs” about continuing care retirement communities.

    In many cases, we do bring in subject experts (lawyers who practice elderlaw, financial advisors, palliative care physicians, senior move managers) but always with careful instructions not to sell their own services but to educate. Admittedly we occasionally have someone who violates the rules, but for the most part, we have found people who understand the intelligence and skepticism of our participants and behave accordingly.

    I would respectfully argue that these are not classes on how to be old but about how to retire creatively. The participants talk about the value of being able to talk to one another and to the members who lead the courses about the many transitions and adjustments that come as you cross the threshold from work to this next phase of life, whether it’s filled with lifelong learning or an encore career or intellectual endeavors.

    We are finding, however, that there is a different playing field now than when these programs were first offered 10 or 20 years ago. There are online sites for both financial and other kinds of retirement planning. There are “retirement coaches” who are enough of a phenomenon to be a subject for “The New Yorker” (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/10/08/121008fa_fact_marx). And of course the national media continues to create headlines that warn us that no one will ever again have enough money to retire. We continue to believe (and our participants tell us in glowing terms) that we offer something unique and worthwhile. I’d be happy to talk further.


  5. We participate in the University retirement workshops for faculty and staff preparing to retire - but are thinking of offering a one off workshop on a Saturday on this subject.
    There are other organizations in our area that do offer such info sessions.


  6. OLLI at Cal State Fullerton has a Transitions in Retirement (TIR) program. In recognition that retirement today consists of several phases, OLLI-CSUF has created a Transitions in Retirement program. Transitions in Retirement Essentials is a series of classes that are open to the public as well as members. Topics include personal finance, estate planning, technology, Social Security essentials, medical topics and the psychology of retirement. For members only, there’s also Laugh and Learn - You’re Retired, and Personal Finance and Retirement.

  7. #7 by: Anne Cardale

    This comment was posted on behalf of Sheila Pantlind, OLLI at Aquinas College

    We offer courses on the following: Social Security; Medicare &
    Medicaid; Financial Markets; Volunteer Opportunities in West
    Michigan; Health Insurance; Empty Nests and Beyond; Places to
    Go, See, Do in Michigan, and more. These courses fit our 50 and
    over so really they can be for the retired already and those
    that are close. One size sort of fits all for us. Our retired
    students come to these in good numbers! You never know enough when it comes to money and health!


  8. Thank you all so much for these replies! Immensely helpful and I appreciate it.
    ~Janie Spencer, OLLI at the University of Montana; janie.spencer@umontana.edu; 406.243.2705


  9. Here at OLLI at UNC Asheville we offer courses on financial planning (with a strong caveat that there will be no selling) and life transitions (I had real reservations when “How to be a Vibrant Crone” showed up in the catalog and then had to eat my reservations when the course had to add a second section) in our College for Seniors for our local members.

    We also offer programs that attract a national audience. For over 20 years we have offered Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend (focused on the issue of relocation in retirement) and a Paths to Creative Retirement weekend workshop for people who are making or having difficulty with the transition from work to retirement. Our participants say that these programs are life-changing because they offer the opportunity to meet with other people facing the same transitions and learn from our member/facilitators who are already enjoying retirement.

    While I understand concerns about not wanting to offer courses that teach us how to be old, I also think that people love lifelong learning programs because they create a sense of community and shared interest. Growing old is part of the reality of our members’ lives, and it’s great to learn together how to make this a vibrant and creative time.


  10. This coming fall term we are offering our very first retirement planning course titled, Nine Mistakes that Could Derail Your Retirement. We were not sure how it would be received but are excited to report we have 25 enrollments so far.

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