The Thirst for Learning Never Stops for Group of Senior Living Residents at The Merion

Every month you can find residents Jackie Mattfield and Robin Tucker holding discussions and teaching classes on a variety of subjects and current events at The Merion senior living community in Evanston, Illinois. Combined, the two Merion residents have more than 80 years of teaching experience.


“I’ve always loved teaching,” said Mattfield. “It’s something that’s never changed for me.”


Mattfield, a former Harvard professor, most recently received her third master’s degree in gerontology at 88 years old. She’s not the only resident continuing her education after retirement, as Tucker, 86, has several post-graduate degrees and strives to learn something new every day.


“I was a public-school teacher for 23 years,” Tucker noted. “The Merion gives me the chance to continue my favorite pastime – teaching.”


The two women help feed residents’ hunger for knowledge by leading discussions and classes that fill up fast with seniors yearning for intellectual stimulation. During the course of a few weeks, the residents read books, write essays and debate on a range of topics. These classes and workshops are among the wide-range of activities offered at The Merion to keep residents engaged and active.


Because of the community’s prime location in downtown Evanston, residents enjoy excursions to nearby Northwestern University, North Shore neighborhoods and Lake Michigan.


The teachers at The Merion have become so popular that their story was picked up by The Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. Two additional residents from The Merion have stepped up to teach more subjects throughout the year.


“These classes allow our residents to continue to grow as people and give them a chance to not only teach but also learn, and they really enjoy it,” explained Mark Zullo, director of marketing at The Merion.


Research shows continuing education for seniors is important in preventing age-related declines. Participation in intellectual activities, like these classes, can result in neurological development… earning the phrase, “use it or lose it.”


“I think people over age 55 get a bad rap that they can’t, or don’t want to use their minds, and that’s just not true,” said Tucker.  “We’re living proof of that.”