SPRINGFIELD — Catherine Banks worked as an associate dean at Springfield College for 28 years. Now, at age 82, she is a student there, enrolled in a strength training and personal fitness class.

“Two football players were assigned to me, and every week I would come in and they would have a program designed for me. Balance and strength training are so important as we age. The course was really helpful,” she told Reminder Publishing.

Banks is enrolled in the Lifelong Learning Program at the college, which partners with Armbrook Village Senior Living in Westfield. The program is for people 55 and older and has been in place for more than three decades. There are two semesters each year — fall and spring. The men and women who attend classes are called members, not students.

There are nearly two dozen courses each semester and about 100 members who attend classes. The instructors are current or former Springfield College professors, teachers from other schools or subject experts from the community. They’re all volunteers, and the courses range from history and politics to culinary arts, estate planning, literature and a host of other subject areas.

Elliott Stratton, 80, a retired juvenile probation officer, has taken courses on communicating with and caring for people with dementia. What he’s learned is helping him support his wife.

“I went to this program because I’m always looking for more information and ways I can try and help my wife by learning what someone with dementia is going through,” said Stratton, who was also a chaplain for Baystate Health.

As part of partnership, Armbrook hosts some classes and provides instructors. Most classes are at Springfield College or online. There are occasional field trips and receptions. There is a $65 fee each semester, which allows members to enroll in any number of courses.

Elyane Harney is the college’s director of regional, online and continuing education, and also runs the Lifelong Learning Program.

“We want to keep the mind churning. The courses allow members to stay on top of current events, remain engaged and continue learning process throughout all stages of life,” she said. “We never want to stop learning. It gives them something to do and stimulates their mind.”

Lifelong learning bills itself as a no stress program where there is zero homework. That appeals to Stratton, who also likes the vibe on campus.

“There’s no homework, so that makes it nice. It’s also great to be on campus with the young folks. That brings back a lot of memories,” he said.

Banks is not only a member of the program, she also teaches a course.

“It’s called Talking Books — we talk about the books we’re reading. I assign a book for them to read and then we discuss it together. It’s like a book club and it meets three times during the semester,” she said.

Harney said the instructors enjoy teaching the courses because the members are so engaged. It’s somehow different than what instructors see in conventional undergraduate classes.

“As we age, we appreciate things we took for granted when we were younger. They are more appreciative because taking the classes is their choice. It’s not something they’re forced to do. And they’re so appreciative of folks volunteering their time to teach them,” she said.

As they grow older, many seniors fear isolation, as families move and friends pass away. When the members gather for class, they tell each other about what else is happening in the community — events they can attend at libraries, senior centers, other venues — and most of all, they look forward to seeing each other in class.

“It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing I like,” said Stratton. “But it helps you meet new and see old friends, it prevents isolation.”

Members say taking courses is more than just a great way to meet new people, they’re introduced to others with shared interests. “You meet people interested in continuing to learn that are still vibrant, that don’t want to just sit home,” said Banks. “We are continuing to make new friends, and that’s really important at this age.”