Aging is complicated. It includes a whole spectrum of experiences, from the best to the worst. At Changing the Narrative (CTN), we’re not trying to sugar-coat aging. Over time, our physical abilities will decrease, as will our health. However, there are some important things that need to be said:
1. Our physical selves, even our health, are not representative of our value or our happiness.
2. Not everyone ages in the same way. Results will vary and broad assumptions are inaccurate.
Aging brings good things as well as bad. And yet, we do not value getting older. If aging were more widely celebrated and valued, CTN wouldn’t have a mission – and we would happily close our doors.
CTN’s mission started (and continues) with reframing how we all think about aging. Reframing does not mean glossing over the negative. Instead, it means being balanced. It gives us a more realistic view and importantly, it gives us paths forward to create a more equitable society.
CTN is also actively finding ways to change perspectives through campaigns that put these beliefs into action. From our intergenerational conversations to promoting the benefits of older adults in the workplace, there are concrete examples of what an anti-ageist culture is.
Ageism is a problem with solutions
As put by the World Health Organization, “Ageism is everywhere, yet it is the most socially “normalized” of any prejudice, and is not widely countered.” CTN is here to counter it.
During the time of the pandemic, ageism, like so many other weaknesses, has been exposed. Exposure is not necessarily a bad thing, however. We have to see a problem before we can address it.
Age is rarely mentioned when an older person is praised publicly. No one seems to consider that Anthony Fauci wouldn’t be doing what he is doing without decades of experience. Gallup’s annual poll of Most Admired Men and Women is filled with older people. It takes a while to become our best, so let’s acknowledge that.
So, what is real aging like? We hear a lot about the negative parts. It’s time to hear the other side of the story.
Real people leading the way
Because we believe that a long life provides opportunities and gifts along with everything else, we share actual examples of what real aging is like. Stories are one way to reframe our narratives about aging. The “Real Aging” stories in our blog counter the negative stereotypes out there.
In the Real Aging stories, you will hear about:
- Experienced community organizers who mobilize to help frontline workers and those unemployed during the pandemic
- Entrepreneurs and leaders who use a lifetime of experience to create organizations that solve problems and lead by example
- People who respond to discrimination and adversity by rising higher and forging new paths for themselves and those who come after
- Adults who have spent their lifetime in service of their neighbors, families and communities – and continue to do so
What is real aging like? It is as varied, challenging and exciting as any adventure we can imagine. These stories celebrate the gift of experience and people using it to the fullest, each in their own unique and meaningful way.
Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger