What Would It Look Life If Aging Wasn’t Bound By Ageism?

What Would It Look Life If Aging Wasn’t Bound By Ageism?

Enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, York County, PA is committed to helping our residents have opportunities and accessibility to the people, places, and experiences we need as we grow older.

In Spring 2023, we convened our county commissioners and community partners to discuss barriers hindering progress to this goal and identify solutions to breaking through them.

The stigma of aging was a common barrier theme.  This did not surprise us because ageism is still a tolerated form of social prejudice in our country.  Ageism affects everyone and impacts everything.

Solutions brainstormed by the participants included increasing education on how age bias hurts a community, promoting real life aging experiences, and hosting conversations that reframe the narrative of aging.

One of the most powerful solutions identified was summed up in the form of a simple question, “does it work for people of all ages?”  Applying this lens to anything and everything improves livability because if something works for someone age 8 and age 80, it will most likely work for everyone.

A community unbound by ageism means:

  • Vibrant opportunities for all ages (cultural, educational, employment, etc.)
  • Variety of options across all price points that align with residents’ needs and wants (housing, transportation, services, etc.)
  • Residents know what’s available to assist them
  • Simplified process and access to services
  • The community has an intergenerational focus and sense of belonging for all ages
  • Safe, walkable sidewalks and outdoor spaces; accessible parking
  • Existing homes are modified to support safety and comfort as we age
  • Increased communication and collaboration on everything
  • First responders and frontline workers are trained in the impact of ageism and dementia

With people living longer, we are doing and spending more, and reimagining life beyond the traditional retirement age.  Without changes to our community’s physical and organizational structures, and without attitudes and culture that embraces aging, the quality of life for people of all ages is compromised.

This is why York County is working to spread the word that an Age-Friendly plan benefits everyone.  We want more stakeholders across all sectors sharing their expertise and perspectives in creating a community that is both a great place to grow up and grow older.  A community where age-equitable thinking, decision-making, and choices are the norm.  A community where people age with dignity, health, and resources to help them thrive.

To learn more about York County’s work in improving livability, contact York County Community Foundation’s Embracing Aging managing director, Cathy Bollinger, at cbollinger@yccf.org or 717.848.3733