As our initiative first evolved in fall 2013 and people learned more about it, we received push-back regarding the Embracing Aging name. Since that time, when in the community talking about our work, we are often greeted with glazed over eyes, body language indicating discomfort in the topic, and verbal comments expressing aging as unimportant or taboo. This pushback validated what we already knew; society values youth, and far too often, aging is viewed as ONLY an impairment or decline. This thinking impacts our work in creating a community that is a great place to age.
Underlying ageist attitudes and behaviors can become beliefs and stereotypes of older adults, which pose a threat because they can be widely held and take on a social truth that goes unquestioned. This can influence the decisions of policy makers, planners, developers, business owners, community leaders, and individuals, impacting older adult employment, housing, infrastructure, advocacy, services and support, policies, public view, philanthropy, and health.
Embracing Aging wants to disrupt negative thinking and create the conditions where people listen and care about building a community that works for people of all ages, with emphasis on older adults. The ultimate vision of Embracing Aging is a culture and attitude throughout the community where ‘older age-friendly’ is so normal and everyday that it doesn’t require any special consideration when making any type of decision. This thinking will truly make York County a great place to age!
YCCF’s Managing Director of Embracing Aging, Cathy Bollinger, is available to speak locally, regionally and nationally on a variety of topics, including creating age-friendly communities and dismantling ageism. Click here to learn more.