December 7, 2021
Older Americans are advised to keep their brains sharp and research supports the concept that discovering new interests and learning new things is key to a healthy brain and healthy aging. One of the benefits of living in a community such as Kendal at Lexington is the mix of life experiences and interests among the residents.
Over the years, residents have embraced lifelong learning whether it’s through guest speakers, classes, or presentations by fellow residents both on the Kendal campus and in the surrounding community.
When COVID restrictions brought those in-person programs to a halt, Kalex residents were undaunted – they simply learned new ways to keep learning according to Dianne Herrick, president of the resident committee. “There were some interesting side-lights and discoveries we made during that time which involved learning as we walked on the path through the isolation”
Many residents learned how to do the now-ubiquitous Zoom meeting which kept them connected. Another effort on learning new technology came along with the development of the CATIE web portal that was used for daily updates, menus, and other Kendal news.
Some other options included online classes, such as the Memoir Writing Class held virtually with the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) cadets.
Getting Back to Regular Programming at Kendal
As restrictions eased, programs in Kendal Hall resumed, at first with limited participation, but as all residents became vaccinated, they are able to attend programs. “The advantage of being at Kendal is together we are more careful,” Dianne added. “Kendal had great things set up to keep us safe, that and the feeling among the residents was ‘I’m not going to be the one to bring COVID in’ and that helped keep us safe, too.”
Within the community are options such as “Kendal College” developed and ran by residents that is offering an upcoming program on surrealism and another on climate change.
Local Options Abound for Lifelong Learning
Nearby institutions such as Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute have been popular sources of various learning, whether auditing a classes or in a special lectures or presentations.
Pre-COVID, residents enjoyed attending live performances and presentations at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, Lime Kiln Theater and other venues. While some areas aren’t 100% open for full programming, many virtual options are still being offered to keep curiosity and discovery alive.
Setting Your Own Schedule
Whether you want to learn about art history, woodworking, ancient history or line dancing, lifelong learning opportunities at Kendal are there for the taking. Residents are encouraged to suggest new topics or offer presentations on their area of expertise. There’s no shortage of subjects and no pressure to do everything. It is entirely up to you to pick and choose.
The key, according to Dianne, is recognizing the importance of staying active and engaged for better health and quality of life. She is grateful that Kendal provided a safe space for continuous learning even during uncertain times. “I’m grateful that we were at Kendal, [during COVID] we weren’t as isolated as some people who were in their own homes and had little interaction.”