Optimal Aging Institute

Optimal Aging Institute launching initiative to tackle opioid problems among older population

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in retirement, Nancy Orel stuck by some of a gerontologist’s favorite reading – obituaries and the coroner’s report. In the listing from the coroner’s office, she noticed something interesting. Of the six people listed as dying from opioid overdoses, three, were over 50. Yet when she went to see what programs were available to help address the toll the opioid epidemic is taking on older Americans, she couldn’t find any. She mention it to those engaged in the battle against opioid addiction, and they would not have given older Americans any thought. True the greatest number of addicts are under 50, but the rates of addiction and abuse are raising faster among those 54 and older. The federal Center for Disease Control doesn’t even keep tabs on how many older Americans die from opioids, she said. (The Wood County Health District does a better job, she said.) So when interim Dean Sue Houston, of Bowling Green State University, called Orel in to see if she maybe wanted to come out of retirement, she said “yes.” She’d retired as associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services less than a year before. Though she was enjoying retirement, she saw something more needed to be done. Orel told Houston that when she first proposed creating the Optimal Aging Institute it was to promote the research being done at BGSU on aging related issues, and foster more research. The Optimal Aging Institute was launched in March 2016 with a $1 million grant from Medical Mutual of Ohio. In November Orel took on the newly created position of executive director of research for the institute. That represents a shift at the institute. The institute will continue its focus on the aging in place and age-friendly communities under executive director Paula Davis working with the Wood County Committee on Aging. Denise Niese, executive director of the Committee on Aging, said the two groups have worked in tandem on programming, and now all programs will be offered in conjunction with the committee to avoid duplication. Orel will direct the new research driven initiative, also working with Niese of the Committee on Aging. They have a long-standing close working relationship. In 2005, they created the No One Is Immune project that dealt with seniors and HIV/AIDS. Orel said back then “no one was assuming older adults were at…


Optimal Aging Institute offers Ukulele for Beginners class

From OPTIMAL AGING INSTITUTE Bowling Green State University’s Optimal Aging Institute will offer a two-session Ukulele for Beginners class, co-sponsored by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. The program will take place on March 22 and 29 from 10:30 a.m. until noon at the Simpson Garden Community Center at 1291 Conneaut Ave. Learn how to strum, play a few chords, and sing familiar songs, all in a fun and relaxing environment with Lisa Gruenhagen, Ph.D. Dr. Gruenhagen is an associate professor of music education at BGSU. While studying flute and music education at Eastman School of Music, she became involved with the New Horizons International Music Association, which provides entry points to music making for adults that are age 50 and over. Gruenhagen has been playing the ukulele for approximately five years and has taught people of all ages. Along with other basics she will be teaching how to hold and tune the ukulele as well as how to balance playing within the group regardless of experience level. “Music makes you think. Music is thinking in sound. You are thinking about fingerings, chords, playing in tune, and balancing your sound with others. While playing ukulele, you are strumming to the pulse and might also be singing, coordinating all of these things at once. Actively making music strengthens muscles and can help build memory,” Gruenhagen says. The purpose of this program is to learn new musical skills as well as have fun. Ukulele is relatively easy to learn, only one or two fingers are required for some chords, and it is small and lightweight, according to Gruenhagen. Learning an instrument later in life also has its benefits. “There is community and a feeling of accomplishment. Taking a class or participating in an ensemble allows people to be a part of something,” Gruenhagen adds. Aging can limit social interaction and being part of a community is important, especially later in life. Music programs such as this provide time for adults to socialize and build friendships. Active music making can contribute to stronger physical and mental health while challenging the brain to think creatively, per Gruenhagen.


Registration for inaugural Optimal Aging Community Fair underway

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Registration is now underway for Bowling Green State University’s inaugural Optimal Aging Community Fair. The fair, which will be held Aug. 1, will include an international keynote speaker who will focus on active aging, plus panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions and health screenings, all emphasizing the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, cultural and occupational. Colin Milner, chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging and founder of the active-aging industry in North America, will serve as the keynote speaker. Recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of “the most innovative and influential minds” in the world on aging-related topics, he will discuss the seven dimensions of wellness and the nine principles of active aging. The fair will also include remarks from Dr. Marie Huff, dean of the College of Health and Human Services; Kathy Golovan of Medical Mutual of Ohio; and Paula Davis, project administrator for the Optimal Aging Institute; a panel presentation on trends in aging and caregiving and personal stories of resiliency moderated by Denise Niese, Angie Bradford and Danielle Brogley from the Wood County Committee on Aging. The afternoon will offer a variety of breakout sessions where participants can experience the seven dimensions of wellness through fun, engaging and educational programs and activities. Session topics include: Introduction to Mindfulness, Navigating Insurance Options, Aging in Place, Understanding Trusts and Wills, Preventing Scams, Zumba for Seniors and Using Technology to Stay in Touch and Make New Friends. Ongoing activities include exhibitors, health assessments, yoga, listening post for caregivers, home assessments and more. The fair, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, is free for people 60 and older and BGSU employees and students. The cost is $20 for other attendees; lunch is included. The fair requires advance registration online at www.bgsu.edu/oai. The event is one of Davis’ first duties as project administrator of the newly created Optimal Aging Institute. Davis was previously the director of corporate and foundation relations at BGSU. She came to BGSU from Ithaca College where she served as both the assistant director and outreach coordinator of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute. The Optimal Aging Institute in the College of Health and Human Services provides learning opportunities and educational materials for service providers, health systems, entrepreneurs, corporations, caregivers and older adults. The institute was…


Optimal Aging Institute hires administrator & schedules community fair

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU’s new Optimal Aging Institute (OAI) is moving ahead. Its inaugural project administrator has been recently named and a community fair is planned. Paula Davis has been named project administrator effective July 11, Dr. Marie Huff, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, has announced. Currently serving as BGSU’s director of corporate and Foundation relations, Davis served as both the assistant director and outreach coordinator of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute from 2012-15. In addition, she successfully completed the Geriatric Scholar Certificate Program sponsored by the Columbia-New York Geriatric Education Center in 2013. “Paula’s many years of experience in marketing and fundraising, along with her experience in gerontology, make her uniquely qualified to lead the Optimal Aging Institute,” Huff said. “We look forward to collaborating with her and our community partners and other individuals on campus to develop our long-term strategic plan and beginning to provide engaging programs and resources for the community.” Davis will also be a speaker at the institute’s Optimal Aging Community Fair, to he held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 1 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The fair is open to all ages but does require advance registration by July 28. It will include an international keynote speaker discussing active aging, followed by panel discussions and interactive breakout sessions and health screenings in the afternoon emphasizing the seven dimensions of wellness. This event is free for people age 60 and over, BGSU employees and students, and $20 for others. Lunch is included. For more information, visit the OAI website or call 419-372-8243. The institute, based in the College of Health and Human Services, was strategically developed in 2016 to provide learning opportunities and educational materials focusing on optimal aging for service providers, health systems, entrepreneurs, corporations, caregivers, and older adults. The OAI has received a generous five-year commitment of financial support from Medical Mutual of Ohio.


BGSU launches Optimal Aging project with $1 million from Med Mutual

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University has a new $1 million baby – an initiative to help older area residents age more gracefully. Officials from Medical Mutual of Ohio, which made the $1 million donation, and BGSU officially delivered the new project at a press conference Monday morning at the College of Health and Human Services. That’s where the Optimal Aging Institute will have its offices. Its services, though, will be offered throughout the area, wherever older folks want and need help make their lives easier, healthier and fuller. In announcing the project, Health and Human Services Dean Mary Huff said: “Optimal aging is defined as living at one’s highest potential, whether or not we are living independently and in excellent health, or coping with a chronic illness or disability. Optimal aging is a focus on what is possible, not on the impossible.” The initiative, Huff said, will have three major goals: • It will create and expand programs and activities for middle-age and older adults. • It will assist those doing research in aging and assist those needing supportive services for themselves or others. • It will educate and train students, service providers, health care workers, caregivers, older adults and business owners. That will include providing students with hands-on learning experiences. Huff said the first step will be to hire a director. A conference will be held in August to help launch the institute. The programs will address all the dimensions of wellness, Huff said. Those are physical, emotional and cognitive as well social, occupational, cultural and spiritual. BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said more older adults are returning to college towns to live. Campuses provide a wealth of activities, and the stimulation of a young population. Students, she said, help keep her young. Aging, she said, is “beautiful.” “You can do what you want and say what you want to say. You impact the lives of others. You get to have a major impact on the future of this country,” she said. Rick Chiricosta, the chairman, president and CEO of Medical Mutual of Ohio, said the name and concept of the Optimal Aging Institute “really resonated with me.” “That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Let’s make this a great experience for people who are getting older.” The institute could become a model for the state and nation, he said. Mazey said she hopes…