Lana, a retired public school teacher from Baltimore County, Maryland, has found a new passion in learning through GetSetUp. She has been taking classes on the platform since 2020, and it was a lifesaver for her during the pandemic.
Lana first heard about GetSetUp through the Baltimore Area Agency on Aging, which partnered with GetSetUp to provide free online classes to older adults. She decided to give it a try and hasn't looked back since.
"It's been enlightening, interesting, and fun," she says.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down senior centers and other gathering places, many older adults were left feeling isolated and disconnected as local senior centers, like the one Lana attendend in Baltimore, shut down.
"There was nothing to do and nowhere to go," Lana recalls. "So the Baltimore County Senior Center set up bingo to keep us focused and busy."
Fortunately, now there are resources available that can help seniors stay mentally fit and engaged from the comfort of their own homes.
At first, Lana was drawn to the more fun and lighthearted classes, like music and trivia. But as time went on, she began to explore some of the more informative classes, like history, geography, and Spanish. One of her favorite instructors is Sue, whom she describes as "very enlightening." Lana has learned a great deal from Sue's classes, particularly about geography.
"I have learned more geography than I ever learned in my life," Lana says. "Now, when someone talks about the dodo bird and that he was last sighted in Mauritius, I know what they're talking about and where!"
Classes with Community
For Lana, the best thing about GetSetUp is the sense of connection and community it provides. Lana enjoys seeing familiar faces in classes and feels that the Guides are very good at creating a sense of camaraderie among the learners.
She takes a Spanish conversation session with several people from Michigan and the Baltimore area, and they get to see each other regularly in GetSetUp classes.
"It's been a great way to stay connected with people, especially during the pandemic," she says.
She’s even seen people from a nearby suburb in her classes. Another thing that Lana appreciates about GetSetUp is the variety of classes offered. Even after the pandemic she mixes her virtual programming with local events.
"Now I'm combining in-person Spanish with the Saturday conversational group on GetSetUp. And I take other classes that interest me."
Lana particularly enjoys the Kahoot classes, which are competitive games that test learners' knowledge on a variety of topics.
"It's fun, but it's also a learning situation," Lana explains. "Because the things you get right, you remember."
Growing through learning
Lana feels that she has grown and learned a great deal through her experience with GetSetUp.
"I have become way smarter than I used to be," she says. "And I know a lot more than I did before. It wasn't that I wasn't trying to learn every day, but now I’m more focused."
Classes have given her opportunities to learn out specific topics such as geography and history.
"I feel mentally I'm in a better place than before the pandemic," she says. "And GetSetUp classes help me tune into something positive for an hour instead of worrying about some of the problems going on in the real world.”
Her husband often asks her how many classes she has that day, since it's a regular part of her schedule. Plus, she likes to enjoy new classes when they meet her learning interests.
When she sprained her ankle last year, she added Shirley’s line dancing class to her schedule as part of her self-imposed physical therapy.
“You could do as much as you wanted and even just count the beat in your head, if you couldn’t do more at the time. I found those classes helpful since they were at my own pace.”
One benefit of classes on GetSetUp is that they are flexible. Lana can take them from anywhere and choose which ones to attend.
"Some of the classes are at the same time weekly, and others are pop-ups. Because we can go out a lot more now, I do a combination of scheduling to see what's available when I'm available.”
GetSetUp provides ways for older adults to stay connected, learn new things, and have fun from anywhere they have an internet connection.
"It's important to learn, and it's also important to have fun and keep it together," Lana says. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow with GetSetUp."