Keeping Mind and Body Active in Retirement

This was one of three articles that was published in the Register-Guard’s annual special publication, Destination: Retirement, in March 2015.

No need to stop learning or living life to the fullest in a community as rich in resources as the Eugene/Springfield area.

By Vanessa Salvia


There’s a common stereotype that older people become bored in retirement and may even become depressed or withdrawn. While that certainly happens, Olivia Taylor-Young, 77, says she’s never met anyone who fits that description.

“My husband and I joke about being in retirement and having less time than we ever thought,” says Taylor-Young, who is active in the University of Oregon’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI. “Of course, the joy of being active in retirement is you’re doing what you want to do on your own schedule.”

Not only is learning in retirement a great way to keep your brain active, it also provides a rich social outlet.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

OLLI is a national network of 117 institutes on university and college campuses in all 50 states. OLLI was established at the UO in 1993 and in Bend 11 years ago. Members must be 50 years old or better, and the small annual fee ($130 for an individual or $110 per person for a household) allows access to OLLI events in the Eugene-Springfield area as well as Central Oregon.

A wide spectrum of OLLI events includes lectures by UO faculty members or out-of state scholars; presentations based on the members’ interests; and trips to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland to see plays.

“We’re going to have lectures by a UO professor of Chinese literature, and one of the architecture professors will present on urban planning,” says Ruth Heller, OLLI-UO’s program director. In April, Jim Walker, a retired physician and map collector, will give a presentation on cartography. “That’s a good example of the contributions by members of the community who are independent scholars,” Heller says.

Members of OLLI often have some professional or business background, but it’s open to everyone, regardless of their careers or education. OLLI is a program of the university, but it also places significant worth on the members’ own experiences and interests. “Osher gives people an opportunity to shape their own learning environment and to bring their interest and background to share with others,” Heller says. “I think of it as kind of a member-authored curriculum.”

Taylor-Young facilitates OLLI’s creative writing group, which is attended by about 20 people each week. “It’s a totally eclectic kind of group,” she says. “We have people who want to start writing now to people who did it a great deal in their career and everything in between. We also have people who are poets, people who write fiction, creative nonfiction, op-ed columns, memoirs … anything you can think of that comes under the heading of writing.”

Taylor-Young got involved at OLLI after moving here in 2009. She enjoys the wide range of classes, and appreciates that the program encourages people to explore their creativity and share it. “One of the things OLLI does, it not only encourages you to learn but to share your own knowledge and creativity,” she says.

One member who is interested in art history has put together a two-part presentation on expressionism and impressionism in art. Another is giving a presentation on solar eclipses. She and her husband prepared an expansive presentation on United States history. “I think it’s a great group of people for any age, and at times it’s the youngest-acting group of people you ever want to meet,” Taylor-Young says.

LCC programs

The Successful Aging Institute is organized under Lane Community College’s Continuing Education (CE) Department. CE & SAI offer a wide spectrum of classes and workshops in the fields of the arts, careers (including volunteer opportunities), health occupations, home and family, and personal growth, such as yoga or cooking. Enrollment in most courses is open to anyone over 16 years of age.

LCC’s Continuing Education department offers both classroom and online classes in many subjects, such as using computers and the Internet, bookkeeping, grant writing and selling on eBay. Spring-term SAI classes include oil painting, colored pencil drawing, iPad for the beginner, and a new course called Arboretum Volunteer Training, which prepares people to share the native habitats and ecology at Mount Pisgah Arboretum.

Park district offerings

All of the park and recreation districts around Eugene and Springfield offer classes and events just for older adults. Adult classes through Eugene Parks and Rec are offered through the Campbell Community Center, Petersen Barn Center, Amazon Community Center and Sheldon Community Center.

The Successful Aging Institute offers water fitness classes through the River Road Park & Recreation District. Willamalane in Springfield offers an indoor golf driving range and much more, including several fitness classes just for ages 50 and above, such as yoga, Zumba and Tai Chi.

Between OLLI, SAI, LCC’s classes and the opportunities at parks and recreation districts, “you can cherry pick what you want to be a part of or you can be busy ever single day if you want,” Taylor-Young says.

That’s just how retirement is supposed to be.

Writer Vanessa Salvia can be contacted at

Retirement learning, recreation resources

Lane Community College

Continuing Education: 101 W. 10th Ave., Suite 119; 541-463-6100;

Successful Aging Institute: 101 W. 10th Ave., Suite 133; 541-463-6262;

Senior Companion Program: 101 W. 10th Ave., Suite 133; 541-463-6260;
online at

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
at the University of Oregon

Events are held at the UO Baker Downtown Center, 975 High St.,
Suite 110 in Eugene. For information on programs call
541-346-0697 or visit online at

Eugene recreation programs for adults

Amazon Community Center: 2700 Hilyard St.; 541-682-5373

Campbell Community Center: 155 High St.; 541-682-5318

Petersen Barn Center: 870 Berntzen Road; 541-682-5521

Sheldon Community Center: 2445 Willakenzie Road; 541-682-5312
Online at

River Road Park & Recreation District

1400 Lake Drive, Eugene; 541-688-4052 (main office);
541-461-7777 (pool);

Willamalane Park & Recreation District
in Springfield

Willamalane Adult Activity Center: 215 West C St.,
Springfield; 541-736-4444

Willamalane Center for Sports and Recreation:
250 S. 32nd St., Springfield; for information on programs
call 541-736-4544

Willamalane Park Swim Center: 1276 G St.,
Springfield; 541-736-4080; online at

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