For the Monitor

Leaves turning, days shorter, cool days and cold nights – a joyful migration into fall for some is a depressing dive into that brief period leading to woeful winter. Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and seniors are particularly sensitive to this annual change.

For our seniors there are proven remedies for the depression that may sneak up. Two of the most effective are socializing and keeping one’s mind active. Well, OLLI at Granite State College checks both of those boxes for adults age 50 and up.

OLLI is a program dedicated to Learning for the Fun of It. Both the learning and the fun occur in classrooms with a variety of cost-effective courses, developed by a volunteer team of OLLI members and taught by volunteer presenters. Sometimes OLLI course classrooms are outside of the college campus, like our upcoming hike, Nottingcook in Blazing Color, or visit to the Kimball Jenkins Estate or tour of the Forest Society’s Conservation Center.

Socializing in the OLLI program is fun, even for the most introverted. There is a national gym franchise that advertises being a “judgment-free zone.” Consider OLLI to be a judgment-free zone without the treadmills. Just when you think you’re the only one whose joints creak and back hurts, you can walk into an OLLI function and find everybody has something like that going on, but nobody pays attention because there are too many more interesting things to talk about.

Don’t like parties? Neither does the person in charge of events for OLLI. So, what does socializing involve? OLLI just had a terrific “Mug ‘n’ Muffin” where members gathered for coffee and pastries while exchanging stories of weather catastrophes. The one rule was “happy endings only – no tear-jerkers.” So members regaled each other with one funny or inspiring story after another of bursting pipes, grandkids’ introduction to hotel vending machines, vacation misadventures during unending rain and, with the really bad conditions like earthquakes and tornadoes experienced in other parts of the country, concluded that New Hampshire, with the help of a generator, is the best place to live.

Coming up in October is one of OLLI in Concord’s favorite events, a Game Day. Just as it sounds, OLLI members come together to play Scrabble, Kings in the Corner, Chicken Dominoes, Balderdash and many others – some more competitively than others, but all accompanied by laughter and teasing.

What else keeps our members active, healthy and smiling? Almost half of our 400 Concord members volunteer for various roles to support the OLLI programs they appreciate so much. The entire OLLI program relies on volunteers: they develop courses and recruit presenters, presenters teach courses voluntarily, they develop social activities, trips, Special Interest Groups, organize Lunch Bunches, help raise funds, write for the monthly newsletter. In short, if they have a skill, OLLI can probably use it, which is good for OLLI and good for the volunteer.

OLLI is one thing all 50-plus folks can do for their health and happiness – and it doesn’t require a prescription. To find out more about membership, upcoming classes and events, trips, volunteer opportunities and more, visit OLLI’s website, olli.granite.edu, or call the OLLI office at 513-1377. OLLI, which offers noncredit courses to lifelong learners, is a program of Granite State College. Granite State College is known for its flexible college degree programs targeting adult learners with online and classroom courses leading to associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.