HomeColumnsOptimal Aging Institute at BGSU Focuses on Wellness

Optimal Aging Institute at BGSU Focuses on Wellness

BGSU’s Optimal Aging Institute is working to support older adults in their wellness journey as they age.

The institute, which is partly funded by Medical Mutual of Ohio, focuses on bettering the lives of our older citizens through the eight dimensions of wellness, which include emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental and spiritual. 

“We focus on the whole person,” Jennifer Wagner, Director of the Optimal Aging Institute, said. 

When they first started in 2016, they did a lot of programs in the community with older adults. After realizing they were doing a lot of the same activities as other agencies, they decided to start collaborating with local organizations. Currently the institute is offering courses through Lively U at the Wood County Committee on Aging, Older Adult Fitness Classes as well as offering grants to further research in geriatric care. 

In partnership with the Wood County Committee on Aging, the Optimal Aging Institute created Lively U, a “lifelong learning academy” for older adults, which runs concurrently with BGSU’s semesters.

Lively U offers courses for almost any area of interest, including government, literature, culture, sociology, humanities, geography, well-being, history, philosophy, language, science, architectural design and arts. The courses are “completely member-driven,” according to Wagner, where many of the adults choose what classes or what speakers they would like to see on the roster. 

“So it’s very different from the classroom and most of the older adults that are in those burners are very interested in what the topics are. They don’t want to just hear the surface lecture like we would give in the classroom; they want to get down to the nitty-gritty of things,” Wagner said.

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Registration for the courses cost $20. The WCCOA Program & Service Scholarship Fund is offered to those that are interested but cannot afford the fee. 

The Optimal Aging Institute also works with the Well Aware Division at the BGSU Recreation Center to offer Older Adult Fitness programs.

Older adults can train with Rec Center instructors while taking part in fun exercise classes, including Dance Fitness, Strength Training, Gentle Chair Yoga, Aqua Dance and more. 

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in various adult fitness classes at the SRC of BGSU. Every class I have taken and continue to take, has been very beneficial and enjoyable. From the pool classes to strength and conditioning to yoga and to dance… all have been taught by enthusiastic, knowledgeable and caring instructors and have provided me with health and fitness benefits that my doctors and myself have definitely noticed,” one of the adults who participate in classes at the Rec Center said.

Fees for the classes are $10 to $25 for SRC Members or $50 to $100 for Non-SRC members. Registration must be made before the class start date.

One of the main goals of the Institute is to further research in geriatric care, according to Wagner. 

Due to an ever-changing world, it is important to stay up-to-date and with the times.

“Can we do better? What can what can we do differently? Maybe this was the gold standard, but maybe it just doesn’t work anymore with the healthcare systems that are in place now,” Wagner said.

Topics that previous researchers have focused on with the Institute’s assistance include “Poetic Portraits of Older Adults in the Great Black Swamp, Perspectives on Practices in Group Therapy for Aphasia, Pre-Nursing Summer Camp Case Studies and Experiences Working with Older Adults, Mature Driver Initiative and A Clinic to Coach Aging Caregivers of Children with Language Delays in Facilitating Language,” Wagner said.

The Optimal Aging Institute offers grants ranging from $500 to $2000 to researchers as well as connections with faculty members to those interested in doing research. 

For more information on the Optimal Aging Institute visit bgsu.edu/health-and-human-services/optimal-aging-institute.html.

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