Parkway Place residents in their 70s and 80s are taking up a second language thanks to the Spanish expertise of two fellow residents. The Spanish Club meets once a week offering the residents a chance to learn, converse and sharpen their minds. According to AARP, learning spurs the growth of new brain cells, and it may help reduce the likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Nearly 10 residents attend the class religiously, and the group is currently recruiting new participants. 87-year-old Don Cassling, Parkway Place resident, and 89-year-old Dot Cooke, Parkway Place resident, lead the group weekly.
“We have a lot of fun, and there is a lot of laughing during our class,” said Cassling. “No one is preparing for a big trip to Spain or Mexico or South America, instead, we are trying to keep our minds active and do something with our time that feels productive. It helps me stay sharp, and it is fun to watch everyone learn something new.”
Cassling picked up Spanish by taking night classes at the Spring Branch Independent School District and a conversation class at the YMCA. He has done a lot of home study and practice. His teaching partner, Dot Cooke, actually lived in Colombia, South America for several years and has taught Spanish for 15 years altogether.
“I think it is wonderful that people in their 70s and 80s want to learn a new language. When you learn a new language you also get the chance to learn a new culture,” said Cooke. “I love to teach, and it is fun to see people learn. They are very good students because they really study, and we all have a good time.”
The residents are involved in many activities at Parkway Place that help them stay fit physically and mentally. Their desire to keep learning inspires the staff.
“I think it is fantastic that several of the residents are learning a new language,” said Jimmy Johnson, executive director for Parkway Place. “It is important for all of us to continue to challenge our minds and bodies as we age.”