PERRYSBURG – Something funny happened when Nancy Orel told a crowd of baby boomers the secrets to aging
Though her delivery was often akin to a stand-up comedian more so than a professor of gerontology, Orel
blended sharp wit with hard truths that many don’t want to hear.
Most people don’t accept getting older as a real part of life, deep-down believing they’re an exception
to one of the few absolute facts of life, Orel explained during a chamber of commerce luncheon June 18.
Engrained in the thoughts of many is "institutionalized ageism," or the idea that growing old
is a bad thing, supported by the idea that it’s rude to ask a woman her age, Orel said.
Until that changes, "there won’t be sufficient services and programs and a sense of feeling
comfortable in one’s own skin."
But aging, she said, is "better than the alternative" of not living at all later in life.
"We all want to be chronologically gifted," said Orel, associate dean of Bowling Green State
University’s College of Health and Human Services.
Physical health is paramount, and Orel opened her talk by asking guests to put their hands over their
head and snap their fingers.
"If any of you want to stand during this presentation, I would highly encourage that," she
But important alongside physical wellness is spiritual and social health and "intellectual
Audience members laughed when Orel asked them to count back from 100 by 7s, but she pointed out that’s
exactly what they’ll be asked to do if (or when) they are tested for cognitive disorders like
"We don’t enter the future, we create it" with our actions, she said. "Getting old is not
something that just happens when we turn 65."
Orel shifted to talk about how those with advanced age are ballooning in their proportion of the total
population, detailing profound effects the trend will have on society in the coming decades.
The figures for Florida, with its high concentration of older people, will be true for the entire United
States by 2030, she said. As that population explodes in the future, so too will the need for health
care and people to provide it.
"That’s not that far off, and we need to prepare for that."
Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, started turning 65 in 2011, and they’re now reaching that age
at 10,000 people per day, Orel said.
Orel urged her audience to prepare through not just financial planning, but by talking with their
families, which will make up an overwhelming majority of those they’ll have to rely upon as they age.
"We will have such an impact on the city, the state, the county, the nation, and we’ve known about
us baby boomers aging, but our country hasn’t caught up with it."