Seniors continue education through creative writing

Many seniors look to stay mentally stimulated later in life, and some choose to do so by heading back to the classroom. Although a number of them may want to pick up a new skill or earn a degree, a group of retirees in Florida returned to school to create something of their own. Once a week, dozens of seniors in St. Petersburg attend creative writing classes, Gulfport Patch reports.

The class attracts writers of all kinds. Students can write everything from poetry to short stories to autobiographies. One of the students, Deborah Frethen, is in the middle of penning a historic novel. She says her fellow seniors have helped her considerably through peer editing and offer positive, yet constructive, feedback.

"They really have helped me when I get stuck in a rut," she told the website. "It's no wonder when I don't go, I miss it."

The classes in St. Petersburg are one of a growing trend, aging experts say. Similar classes have been popping up in libraries and retirement communities across the country. It's certainly a good thing, as the benefits of lifelong learning are hard to ignore.

Aside from providing an outlet for retirees to stay mentally and physically engaged, classes may help stave off age-related cognitive decline. In 2006, a study from the University of Illinois found that learning new things can improve mental performance.

The study was led by psychology professor Arthur F. Kramer and trained a group of older adults on a simple task. After the training, researchers looked at certain parts of their brain and found changes in certain key areas.