Everyone aspires to old age, considering the alternative, but no one actually wishes to achieve it.

Everyone aspires to old age, considering the alternative, but no one actually wishes to achieve it.

However, contrary to the popular stereotype that the so-called golden years are fraught with loneliness, decrepitude and maybe even some cat food, a group of experts concluded during a panel discussion last week that life after 60, 70, 80 and beyond can be pretty darn satisfying.

"Forever Young: The Myths and Realities of Aging" was part of the ongoing Conversations in the Humanities with Fred Andrle, a program put on by the Humanities Institute at Ohio State University.

While "90 is not the new 50 -- sorry, we wish it could be," as Andrle, who retired in May 2009 as host of WOSU-FM's longtime Open Line program, said at the outset of the conversation, old age has its blessings as well as its drawbacks.

That was the theme that emerged as the members of the panel batted the topic around and took a few questions from the approximately 20 people who turned out for the event at the Whetstone Community Center in Clintonville.

The panel members were:

* Margaret Teaford, 66, of German Village, a gerontologist associate clinic professor of health sciences at OSU;

* Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, 41, of Upper Arlington, associate professor of social work at OSU who focuses on community-based services for older adults;

* Dr. Donald O. Mack, 53, of the Upper Arlington area, associate professor of clinical family medicine with a special focus on geriatrics and palliative medicine; and

* Alan L. Woods, 69, of Clintonville, emeritus professor with the OSU Department of Theater.

"I think one of the good things is, as we age, we put things in perspective better," Mack said.

In fact, he added, depression lessens as people get older because they have learned to adapt to situations.

For Woods, who developed a contest for senior citizens to write plays, what might have disturbed him when he was in his 20s just isn't that big of a deal now that he's approaching 70.

"People do have to think about how to reinvent themselves," Teaford said of the retirement years.

"We know that as we age we may have fewer friendships, but we have much richer friendships," Dabelko-Schoeny said.

Dabelko-Schoeny recalled recently picking her 8-year-old son from day care and seeing him using a baseball bat as a cane while he walked bent over like a doddering old man.

"Where did that come from?" she asked him.

He didn't have a good answer, but Mom guessed it was something he saw on TV.

Woods said up until recently, society was geared more toward the interests of younger people.

"I think that's changing a little bit," he said, simply because members of the Baby Boomer generation are getting older.

"I've lived among them and learned their habits," joked Teaford, who said she was born just a bit before the Baby Boom.

"You face each challenge as it comes and deal with it as best you can," Woods said.