Lifelong Learning Living Greater

Ed Note: Lifelong learning and RLM expert, Nancy Merz Nordstrom, M. Ed., author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Year agreed to an online interview.What is your background/expertise in this field?
I returned to school at age 51 (3 years after the death of my husband) where I saw how education can change your life. I earned an M.Ed. with a focus on adult education. I then joined the Elderhostel organization (N. America’s largest provider of educational travel programs for older adults) as the Director of the Elderhostel Institute Network. The Network has almost 400 affiliated lifelong learning programs and we provide resources to these programs, help start new programs and spread the word about the value of continuing to learn, no matter what your age.

Why did you write this book?
In my capacity as Director of the Network I see and hear every day how lifelong learning can change and enrich older lives, but there are many more people out there who know little or nothing about the concept, benefits and opportunities of lifelong learning in our After-50 years. These are the people I wanted to reach, the Baby Boomers and others who will be looking for ways to stay connected to society and enjoy healthy lifestyles even when they are no longer working full-time.

What do you want your readers to learn or take away from reading this book?

I hope they can gain an understanding of how lifelong learning can be a health club for their minds, bodies and spirits, how continuing to keep their brains stimulated and challenged can make all the difference in their later lives. I hope they will dip their toes in the waters of lifelong learning because once they do I’m sure they will be “hooked.” They will find that their later years are far more satisfying and fulfilling then they ever thought possible.

What research did you do to write this book?
As Director of a national network of almost 400 programs with some 250,000 members I had a wealth of resources and material at my fingertips. Along with that I conducted interviews with experts in the field, collected first-person stories and anecdotes, and read a lot of books about the brain and continuing to learn. I even corresponded with and received contributions from my counterparts in other countries who are active in the lifelong learning movement.

Who was this book written for?
The book was written primarily for the coming wave of 78 million Baby Boomers who are standing on the brink of a big change in their lives and wondering what the next step will be. Along with that I just wanted to get the word out to the “ordinary” people approaching retirement who are beginning to think about their later years. With everyone living longer, we’ve got a lot of years to fill after we retire, and the hope is that we can all fill them creatively and meaningfully.

What problem does this book solve for your reader?

It helps show them that there are some exciting possibilities available once they retire – that retirement doesn’t just mean sitting in a rocking chair watching life pass them by, or early bird dinners and bingo.

What has been the reaction to the book?
Everyone has told me the book is excellent and really opens the door to a unique take on what to do in retirement. Here are some endorsements…

Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D. Founder and CEO of Age Wave
Author of Age Wave, Age Power, The Power Years and Workforce Crisis
“Learning Later, Living Greater is a terrific resource for navigating the uncharted waters of revolutionary retirement trends and lifestyles. Nancy Merz Nordstrom has written a compelling and user-friendly guide to lifelong learning and, in many ways, a complete redefinition of the after-50 years. Every Baby Boomer should grab a copy of this optimistic and helpful book.”

Marc Freedman, President & Founder of Civic Ventures
“Unlike most other books on life after 50, Learning Later, Living Greater connects the dots between lifelong learning, community service, health, and happiness. It promises to be a great help to all those who believe that they can make their greatest contributions in the second half of life.”

Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D.
, Clinical Neuropsychologist & International Consultant on Aging and Health Promotion
“In Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years,” Nancy Merz Nordstrom has correctly championed lifelong learning as a proactive lifestyle for overall personal development and a primary factor for brain health!”

Robert Otterbourg, Author Retire & Thrive. Kiplinger Books
“Becoming a student at age 50 plus is an exhilarating experience. “Learning Later, Living Greater” shows the nearly unlimited opportunities for those who want to broaden their retirement lifestyle.”

Harry R. (Rick) Moody
, Ph.D., Director, Office of Academic Affairs, AARP “All you need to know about learning in later life, here between two covers. Nancy Nordstrom has put it all together. Readable, comprehensive, and inspiring.”

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book or experience in writing it?
My son, Jon F. Merz, who is a published author gave me guidance and help during the entire process. It was a wonderful collaboration between mother and son and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Writing the book at age 61 (3 years ago) was the pinnacle of a “late bloomer” life for me as I didn’t find my “passion” until my mid 50s. So it’s never too late!!! My favorite saying, from Joseph Campbell is, “I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” That sums up the last 13 years for me, ever since I first walked through that classroom door at age 51.


About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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