Changing the Narrative Media Coverage

Browse the following list of recent media coverage, or jump to: 

AARP logo

Are Birthday Cards That Mock Aging Getting Old?
May 31, 2024

“Years ago, when Sara Breindel was working as an administrative assistant at a financial services
company, she gave her boss a birthday card that ridiculed getting older. “He was turning 47 or 48,
and I thought that was hilarious, because I was 25, or whatever,” recalls Breindel, who has served
more recently as co-director of Changing the Narrative, a Denver-based organization dedicated to
fighting ageism. “When I saw his face fall, that was the first time I remember thinking, Oh, maybe
this isn’t funny. Maybe it’s unkind.”

(Article is available online to AARP members, and you can read a pdf here.)

HuffPost logo

2 Common Work Questions That Are Secretly Ageism in Disguise
April 16, 2024

“In general, you should keep opinions about what your colleague should be doing with their free time to yourself. Janine Vanderburg, who leads the anti-ageism nonprofit Changing the Narrative, said a frequent unwanted question older workers get is: “Don’t you want to spend more time with your grandchildren?” The assumption there is that the older worker “can’t balance personal and professional, like we’ve done our entire lives,” Vanderburg said.”

Next Avenue logo

The Fight to End Workplace Ageism
April 2024

“When I took on this initiative, I [Janine Vanderburg] was not prepared to be heartbroken by the stories I heard from folks my age about trying to live off $600 a month in Social Security while “help wanted” signs were everywhere. There’s proven research that shows that having a group of employees that are diverse in age is just as beneficial as racial and gender diversity. Last year, Harvard Business Review released study results showing that women are never the right age for leadership in the workplace. You’re either too young or you have kids and you’re seemingly too busy attending soccer games, and next thing you know you’re going through menopause and you’re just too old. It’s absolutely unfair.”

Katie Couric Media logo

“Grandternity Leave” Is the Hot New Workplace Perk
March 27, 2024

“Companies need these workers, and so the smart ones are adopting benefits like grandparent leave to draw them in and get them to stay,” says Janine Vanderburg, founder of Changing the Narrative, an anti-ageism organization.

Vanderburg says she knows several colleagues who either put their careers on hold or simply stopped working when they became grandparents, and thinks a benefit like this could go a long way to keep older workers employed. “If someone becomes a grandparent and decides they want to take some time, you don’t wanna lose that employee and all the skills and experience they have, you want to retain them with something like grandparent leave,” she tells us.”


Next Avenue logo

Jan Golden: Creatively Celebrating Joyful Aging
March 12, 2024

“I live in Denver and Changing the Narrative is an anti-ageism campaign based here, led by Janine Vanderburg. I attended several anti-ageism events. During the pandemic, they sponsored their first anti-ageism birthday card contest, which was really intriguing to me. At that time, I was a Change Agent, one of the people trained by the organization around reframing aging. I didn’t participate in that first contest because I was more of an advisor with the group.

But what I did do was create my first line of anti-ageism greeting cards.”

MarketWatch logo

LinkedIn Under Fire For Ageist Ads: Fails To Take Timely Action And Uphold DEI Policy
March 8, 2024

“LinkedIn members have been pushing back for months against the company’s release of two ageist ads that stereotype older people as unaware and uneducated in business and technology. The ads were released in November 2023, and members of the LinkedIn community have been calling for removal ever since, without success. LinkedIn’s lack of timely response clashes with the DEI policy, which vows to protect individuals and groups (including age) from content that attacks, denigrates, intimidates, dehumanizes, and incites.

… Janine Vanderburg, co-founder and senior strategist of Changing the Narrative, published an article on LinkedIn. She offered three reasons these ads were inappropriate and suggested appropriate next steps. In early February, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Vice President Jim Habrig defended the ad, writing, “The ad is part of a campaign designed to drive conversations about challenges facing B2B marketers…”

MarketWatch logo

Ageism in health care is more common than you might think, and it can harm people
March 7, 2024

“Kris Geerken is co-director of Changing the Narrative, an organization that wants to end ageism. She says research shows that negative beliefs about aging – our own or other people’s – are detrimental to our health.

“It actually can accelerate cognitive decline, increase anxiety, it increases depression. It can shorten our lifespans by up to seven-and-a-half years,” she says, adding that a 2020 study showed that discrimination against older people, negative age stereotypes, and negative perceptions around one’s own age, cost the health care system $63 billion a year.

Still, beliefs can change.

“When we have positive beliefs about age and aging, those things are all flipped,” Geerken says, and we tend to age better.

Geerken conducts anti-ageism trainings, often over Zoom, including trainings for health care workers. She also advises older adults on how to push back if they feel their medical concerns are being dismissed with comments like, “It’s to be expected at your age.”

MarketWatch logo

‘Everybody’s ageist. Everybody’s going to be a victim.’ Can public-service campaigns tackle age prejudice?
February 28, 2024

“However, anti-ageism activists are skeptical about a national campaign in the U.S. taking hold anytime soon.

Janine Vanderburg, co-founder and senior strategist of Changing the Narrative, said the anti-ageism campaign in England may be more effective because it’s a smaller country, whereas a national campaign in the U.S. may be less feasible.”


Next Avenue logo

The Language Battle Is Now Coming for…Your Birthday Card?
February 16, 2024

“Sara Breindel is a co-director of Changing the Narrative, a Denver-based anti-ageism advocacy organization. In 2020 she helped organize the Anti-Ageist Birthday Card Campaign, which solicited artists “to design cards that countered the usual depressing narrative about getting older.” The project was considered such a success it was reprised in January 2023.

She says the organization took on birthday cards because they’re “the one time all of us think about how old we are. And it’s often the one time we’re really getting messages about it.” 

“It’s the way it’s always been. But, I mean, there was a time when it was ‘the way it’s always been’ that you made fun of women drivers. But eventually you start asking these questions and go, ‘Oh, you know, is that really what we want to make fun of? Is that really accurate?’”

Next Avenue logo

Are You Ageist?
February 15, 2024

Even as older adults rail against ageism, a lot of us simultaneously internalize messages that aging is somehow a negative, and then act accordingly by limiting what we do and how we perceive our options.

“I hear people say a lot I’m too old to learn/do/start that but why is this?” says Janine Vanderburg, who at 65 started the non-profit Changing the Narrative to help end ageism. “It’s because we’re surrounded by messages, whether it’s employers or popular culture or media writing about the gerontocracy … they’re sending the message that we come with expiration dates.”

MarketWatch logo

‘Older workers are good for business.’ Why Peak 65 is such a big deal for workers and retirement
February 14, 2024

“Peak 65 provides potentially more of an opportunity to get the message out that older workers are good for business and that employers are missing out on opportunities if they don’t tap in to Peak 65,” said Janine Vanderburg, senior strategist with Changing the Narrative, an anti-ageism initiative.

But Vanderburg and other older-adult analysts see Peak 65 as a double-edged sword for employment.

“The bad part I’m worried about is that there’s going to be more reinforcement of the outdated idea that 65 is equal to retirement,” said Vanderburg.”

MarketWatch logo

Boomers make up 30% of consumer spending — so why do advertisers ignore them?
February 7, 2024

“A recent LinkedIn ad showed an older woman trying to explain cloud computing with humor that critics said reinforced inaccurate stereotypes about technology befuddlement among older adults.

In an attempt to explain her son’s job selling cloud computing, the older woman says: “He says he sells clouds. … He says they’re invisible. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him play so many video games.”

The LinkedIn ad is a “stereotype of being digitally incompetent. It reinforces the notion that older people are clueless,” said Janine Vanderburg, a co-founder and senior strategist at Changing the Narrative, a campaign that works to raise awareness of ageism through workshops about ageist language, beliefs and practices.

“It offends a lot of people on their platform — especially older adults who are looking for jobs,” Vanderburg said of the ad. “It doesn’t make sense to mock customers.”

Morningstar logo

A massive braindrain is looming as boomers and Gen-Xers retire. Can flextirement help workers and businesses?
January 31, 2024

In a LinkedIn article by Janine Vanderburg, a consultant and writer focused on ageism, influencers in the older-worker space offered their predictions for 2024. Transamerica Institute CEO and President Catherine Collinson said she believes “employers will increasingly adopt flexible retirement options to facilitate smoother transitions for themselves and their retiring employees.”

2023 Press

Kishkovich selected for aging-positive birthday cards
January 12, 2023

“Local artist Marina Kishkovich is one of 10 artists selected nationwide to help combat ageism by creating age-positive birthday cards as part of Changing the Narrative’s Anti-Ageism Campaign.

Kishkovich, of Smithfield, said she is proud to be part of a program that is changing the social conversation about ageism. She said the movement is important to her due to her Eastern European ancestry. She said her culture has a lot of respect for older people. Upon moving to the U.S., she said one of the things she felt was strange was the insulting nature of birthday greeting cards for the aging population.

Kishkovich said her grandfather lived to be well over 100 years old, and walked more than five miles a day well into his 80s.“A lot of the cards for older people are mean and rude,” she said, adding that some of the ones she saw in stores were “horrific.”She said she knows people who would go into a store looking for a gift card and leave without one due to the offensive nature of cards reinforcing negative stereotypes.”

Age-positive birthday cards crush stereotypes and celebrate growing older
January 25, 2023

“Birthday cards designed for older adults that joke about aches and pains, memory loss, sagging skin and awkward doctor appointments are a glaring example of ageism—making assumptions about a person that are often negative, based solely on their age.

However, promoting stereotypes under the guise of whimsical greeting card messages is actually harmful, said Sara Breindel, chief of staff at Colorado-based Changing the Narrative.

“If I’m telling an ageist story in private in a birthday card, I’m probably going to be ageist in other situations,” she said. “If I give a card that says, ‘Old dogs cannot learn new tricks’ and I work in human resources hiring people, I’m probably not treating the pool of applicants the same way.”

Artists Create Age-Positive Birthday Cards as Part of Changing the Narrative’s Anti-Ageism Campaign
January 29, 2023

“A contest attracting submissions from professional greeting card designers from around the country resulted in 10 winning birthday cards—all designed by women, several by women of color— to be part of a collection of age-positive cards. The artists are from cities and states across the country, including San Diego, CA, Seattle, WA, St. Paul, MN, and Fort Collins, CO.

The original contest that accepted applications only from Colorado-based general artists was wildly successful, with the birthday cards selling quickly to buyers around the country. As a result, and due to popular demand, Changing the Narrative decided to expand the contest nationally.

“We chose the artists based on their creative talents and their enthusiasm to join the movement to end ageism,” said Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative. “We invited experienced, professional, and successful greeting card designers to participate in the contest. The wonderfully diverse designs share one thing: a message that age is something to celebrate.”

“Ageism harms all of us,” said Melissa Mika of Fort Collins. “If my art can help shift the perspective of any marginalized group, then I feel like I’m doing the work I was set out to do!””

Colorado nonprofit enlists artists to offer alternatives to “over-the-hill” birthday cards
Changing the Narrative targets ageism in greeting card industry
February 3, 2023

“Laurie Brock’s 70th birthday was a real milestone, and not because of her age. It was the first time she could remember not getting some “over-the-hill” cards that make a joke of health ailments, sagging body parts and looming mortality.

The Denver woman chalked up the delightful surprise to the fact that she had been trying to spread the word about the harmful effects of ageism. She was a volunteer at Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based organization that works with communities, employers and nonprofits to advocate for older adults.

Brock took the stack of 27 cards to a team meeting with Janine Vanderburg, the organization’s director. ” ‘Look at this, I got all non-ageist birthday cards,’ I said with glee.” They weren’t all what Brock called “sweetsie,” but were upbeat and fun.

A light went on in Vanderburg’s head, Brock said. The organization launched an initiative to offer birthday cards designed to celebrate, not denigrate, older adults marking a birthday.

Brock planted the seeds of the idea, said Sara Breindel, chief of staff for Changing the Narrative. The organization reached out to supporters and contacts to get out the word about the project. The first round of birthday cards was offered via the organization’s website in 2021.

“Initially, the idea was let’s use birthday cards as a way to prompt people’s thinking about aging. It’s kind of a fun way to think about it as opposed to just reading a book about ageism,” Breindel said. “Since then, we’ve had a great response. People have said we need more of those, you need to do more with that.”

Addressing Age Discrimination and Rethinking Workforce Development
February 2023

“A perplexing paradox persists in the United States. Throughout 2022, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data reported anywhere between 10 and 11 million unfilled jobs in the country. In my home state, the governor reported at the unveiling of Colorado’s Talent Pipeline Report that there are two jobs available for every person who is unemployed. We know that this has devastating impacts for our local and regional economies. Growth is stifled, and businesses close.

The paradox? Older workers want to work and are not being considered for open positions. Workforce development centers report large numbers of people aged 50+ seeking services. At Changing the Narrative, we hear constantly from older jobseekers who believe they are not being given a chance for open positions, and workshops that we facilitate with workforce development centers on Success Strategies for Jobseekers 50+ are always filled.”

Will you still love me when I’m 64?
February 14, 2023

“‘Will you send me a Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?’ To which I’d add: “Will you be able to find me online?” The answer? If you’re 50 and older, maybe. Or maybe not. Ageism is prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination based on age. As director of Changing the Narrative, a U.S.-based anti-ageism campaign, my work has focused on ageism in the workplace, in healthcare and in popular culture, launching initiatives like the Age-friendly Workplace Initiative and an Anti-Ageist Birthday Card campaign.

When ASA asked me [Janine Vanderburg] to write a blog post on ageism and online dating apps, I was intrigued. Is ageism as rampant in this sphere as it is in others? My conclusion after diving in? Online dating apps both reflect and reinforce the rampant ageism that exists in our culture.”

Two Groups Dedicated-to Anti-ageism Combine Forces
April, 2023

Coverage of Changing the Narrative becoming a campaign of NextFifty Initiative in Colorado Politics Nonprofit Register. (This article is for paid subscribers, with limited free access.)

Learn How to Re-Frame the Last Decades of Life Nancy Peckenham (Medium subscription required)
April 25, 2023

“The significance of how we pass on ageist stereotypes hit home the other day when I heard Janine Vanderburg, the founder of Changing the Narrative, talk about how we have to find new phrases to describe the later chapters of life. With a unified effort, she argued, we can reframe what it means to age.

She pointed to successful campaigns on other issues, like opioid addiction, where campaigns were able to shift the public reaction from it being an individual’s problem to a public health crisis. Ageism needs a similar re-imagining.”

Greetings for the Ages: Small Business: Local Card Sellers Combat Aging Stereotypes (paywall; subscription required)
April 28, 2023

This article highlights two card designers from Changing the Narrative’s Anti-Ageist Birthday Cards, discussing their businesses, the goal behind the age-positive card collection, and the designers’ motivation for participating.

What Would it Look Like if Aging Was Unbound by Ageism?
May 4, 2023

“Did you know that May is #OlderAmericansMonth? Perhaps the next question you’ll have is what’s Older American’s Month?
Every May since 1963, the Administration for Community Living has lead the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month (OAM), a month focused on celebrating and acknowledging the perennial contributions of older adults to our nation. This year, the theme is Aging Unbound, which offers an opportunity to explore diverse aging experiences and discuss how communities can combat stereotypes.
Changing the Narrative, a leading anti-ageism initiative, took this theme and ran with it. They invited pro-aging advocates from different industries, backgrounds, and disciplines to record a short video answering this poignant question: “What would it look like if aging was unbound by ageism?”

What would it look like? As I thought about how I would answer this question, my mind envisioned so many different scenarios.”

Let’s Talk Back to Ageism
May 6 2023

“Anti-ageism activists argue that we must confront ageism wherever it rears its head. The way to change an ageist culture, they say, is to change assumptions, one mind at a time. Rather than sit silently when a person makes an ageist remark or an ageist joke, use the opportunity to call out the ageist assumptions that underlie those utterances. But what do you say?

(The first of three approaches) Polite Correction (PC): Experts agree that this approach is most likely to make a speaker realize the inherent ageism in their remark and reconsider it in the future. PC responses draw heavily on the excellent work of Changing the Narrative, a public awareness campaign aimed at ending ageism.”

Celebrate Older Americans Month by recognizing the contributions of our elders
May 7, 2023

“This year’s theme is “Aging Unbound,” an optimistic and realistic lens for later life. Here are four perspectives with possibilities.

Ageism disappears: Ageism is the last of the “isms” considered socially acceptable. We say things about older adults we never would say about one’s race, religion or ethnicity. Often ageism is subtle; other times it is more obvious as when an employer indicates “We are looking to hire digital natives,” meaning those who grew up with technology. That would exclude 60 and 70 year olds. Fortunately, there are movements, nonprofit organizations and resources to combat ageism. Examples are Changing the Narrative, the American Society on Aging, CoGenerate, the Encore Network, the Age ON movement and Old School: Anti-Ageism Clearing House.”

How to fight back against ageism – without starting a fight
May 12, 2023

“The older you get, the more likely you’ll face ageism. People will make faulty assumptions about you because of your age. When that happens, you have a choice. You can shrug it off or fight back. Context plays a key role in influencing your response. It can sound endearing when someone calls you “honey” or “sweetie” but still make you feel like a child.

That’s not as bad as conferring with a doctor who speaks slowly and loudly as if you’re incapacitated–or family members who disregard your comments because they deem you old-fashioned or out of touch with cultural mores.

“It depends on your relationship with the person,” said Sara Breindel, co-director of Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based campaign of NextFifty Initiative which raises awareness about ageism. You may feel more comfortable asserting yourself if you have an easy rapport with, say, your hairstylist or dental hygienist.”

Overlooked & Sidelined: Working at the Intersection of Age, Race & Gender
May, 2023

“Every year, Changing the Narrative – a NextFifty Initiative campaign – has used the month of May as a time to address ending ageism in society. This year, the theme is “Aging Unbound.” To share the message of how work, health, culture, and society, as a whole, could be impacted with an end to ageism, the organization has created a series of short videos. Key influencers and advocates for the rights of older adults were asked the question: “What would it look like if aging was unbound by ageism?” Watch and listen to their answers here:
Changing the Narrative: Aging Unbound.”

Changing the Narrative Video Series: What Would It Look Like If Aging Was Unbound By Ageism?
May 24, 2023

“Changing the Narrative’s Older Americans Month video project features a series of short videos that pose the question to leaders in the aging field, “What Would It Look Like if Aging was Unbound by Ageism?

In each 30-second to 2-minute video, an aging expert talks about what it would look like to them if aging was unbound by ageism. Interviewees include Judith Graham, Bibian Reyes and Barbara Meltzer. Rani Snyder, JAHF’s VP of Program, envisions a world where age is celebrated and age-friendly care is expected.”

A Message from Lindsay Goldman: Aging With Pride
May 25, 2023

“I was recently asked by Changing the Narrative to respond to the question “What if aging was unbound by ageism?” Their campaign builds on this year’s theme for Older Americans Month: Aging Unbound. I spoke about my aspiration for age to be a source of pride rather than shame, and the intersections of ageism and ableism, sexism, racism, homophobia, and income inequality. You can hear my full response, as well as many others’, by clicking here. “

New Bedford native is changing the narrative on aging
May, 2023

“Changing the Narrative started in 2018. I was getting ready to step away from my consulting firm. A friend called, stating she was going to start an anti-ageism initiative and wanted me to lead it. I agreed, and the stories I heard that year in 42 in-person workshops made me a passionate advocate for ending ageism.

One day, I was facilitating a workshop in one town in western Colorado. Women my age were stuffing the refreshments in their tote bags. When I sat down with them, they shared that they were trying to live on $500-$600/month of social security, that they needed and wanted to work and that no one would hire them. I was stunned, having seen Help Wanted signs in almost every store in town. It was then that I really saw the impact of the pervasive ageism in our culture.”

‘Ageism may be the most normalized and socially accepted form of prejudice,’ but there is hope
August 8, 2023

“Changing the Narrative found similar results as the Australia study, with 94% of participants saying that they had increased their knowledge of ageism, that they felt better equipped to identify and address ageism (95%) and intended to use what they had learned (92%).

“So it can and has happened in the U.S.,” said Janine Vanderburg, senior strategist with Changing the Narrative.

However, getting funding for these types of initiatives can be difficult, Vanderburg said. Yet, given the connections between ageism and the negative impacts on health, well-being and longevity, Vanderburg sees scope for funding from public and private sources.”

“A little bit of learning can go a long way”
August 16, 2023

“You might think that solving such a widespread problem would be near impossible, but happily, emerging evidence suggests that a little bit of learning can go a long way to reducing the ills of ageism. Take for instance a new study from the Australian Human Rights Commission. In the AHRC study, participants joined a 2.5 hour workshop on ageism, and responded to three surveys: one directly before the workshop, one directly after, and one follow-up survey three months later. After just the one workshop—during which they addressed things like age beliefs and common assumptions about aging and older adults—90% of participants reported rethinking the way they communicate with older adults, another 87% had discussed ageism with others, 86% actively considered actions they could initiate to address ageist attitudes in their workplace and 82% reconsidered their attitudes towards aging. The Australian survey is not unique: one Colorado-based program called Changing the Narrative reports comparable successes: 94% of participants in a similar program saying that they had increased their knowledge of ageism, that they felt better equipped to identify and address ageism (95%) and intended to use what they had learned (92%).”

Negative thoughts about aging can be harmful. Here’s how to reduce them
August 17, 2023

“Age bias doesn’t show up only as discrimination or snarky birthday cards. One potent source of ageism comes from older people themselves.” Changing the Narrative contributed material for this article, which quotes Janine Vanderburg, Changing the Narrative’s co-founder.

The New Glass Ceiling: Research Proves That Women Face “Gendered Ageism” Throughout Their Careers
August 23, 2023

“Vanderburg says that you can also change your workplace culture by directly asking to address the issue at hand: “As individuals within companies, we need to say, ‘It would be a good idea in our next professional development session to have someone come in and talk to us about ageism. Someone should talk about how we can attract older workers, so we have an age-diverse team.’”

Vanderburg also advocates for calling out small details: “We need to look at our imagery when we’re hiring. If we say we are open to people of all ages, and our website and our job postings only show people in their twenties, we’re sending a message to older people: You’re not welcome here.”

Vanderburg also cautions women to avoid internalizing ageism and turning against themselves. “Very often, we’re so surrounded by ageist messages that we make ageist statements about ourselves — ‘Oh my God, the new software, am I going to have to learn that?’ Or younger women might say — ‘I’m not sure I’m ready for that opportunity. I’m too young.’”

As Vanderburg says, sometimes you need to be your own best advocate, “Don’t count yourself out. If someone is offering you an opportunity, you’re ready.”

Is Your Office Ageist? How to Spot Age Discrimination at Work and What to Do About It
August 29, 2023

“More seasoned employees are often disparaged, thought to be unambitious or slow to learn new skills — and that’s just simply not the case, says Janine Vanderburg, who leads the anti-ageism nonprofit, Changing the Narrative.

But the bias persists in the workplace. Sometimes it’s blatant, like when managers spout off about “needing new blood,” she says. More often, it’s a bit more subtle, though damaging all the same, Vanderburg says. Whether you’ve been at the same company for years or are on the hunt for a new gig, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.”

How Older Adults Are Changing America
September 1, 2023

“Despite decades of rampant ageism in the workplace, the number of workers 65 and older has mushroomed by 117 percent in a span of 20 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Remarkably, employment of individuals 75 and older has increased by the same percentage.

And the trend is going strong. “I’m getting a lot of requests by employers to talk to their teams about how they can integrate older workers in their workforce,” says Janine Vanderburg, senior strategist for Changing the Narrative, a national campaign funded by the NextFifty Initiative to end ageism.

Hiring older workers is not mere altruism: An estimated 10 million jobs in America are sitting unfilled. This has forced a change in recruitment to target those of all ages, Vanderburg says. Older workers’ preference for remote work, especially in retirement, is pushing employers to be more flexible about where work happens. There are also greater opportunities for part-time work.

American Society on Aging Joins Allies in Celebration of ‘Ageism Awareness Day
September 14, 2023

“Archuleta Seniors Inc. and the American Society on Aging ( encourage everyone to celebrate Ageism Awareness Day on October 7, 2023. Modeled after the United Nations International Day of Older Persons (October 1), Ageism Awareness Day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impact of ageism in our society.

“We live in an aging society, which is a wonderful, remarkable thing,” says ASA’s Interim President & CEO Leanne Clark-Shirley, PhD. “But too many of us view aging with fear, denial and even hostility. We are all growing older. We can’t afford to limit ourselves and other people with such negative and harmful views… and why would we want to? Let’s lean into the opportunities, diversity and full range of experiences that come with aging.”

. . .

In a recent webinar from Changing the Narrative on “Ageism in Healthcare,” speaker Kirs Geerken, Program Manager, said that ageism can shorten the lifespan by 7.5 years, hinder recovery, increase cognitive decline, social isolation and loneliness, and increase anxiety and depression.”

Forget living to 100. Let’s live healthier instead
September 28, 2023

“But unlocking this longevity dividend would require new narratives about healthy aging. Older Americans already contribute to society through working, caring for grandchildren, volunteering and civic participation. Social infrastructure could be further adapted around older age as a latent natural resource, waiting for us to tap it in ways that build purpose and connection. Schools could host youth mentoring programs. Employers could create additional part-time or flexible work opportunities. Even smaller campaigns that combat ageist stereotypes, like reimagining birthday cards to ditch denigrating jokes in favor of celebratory pride, could change these narratives. “Great stories take time,” reads one, depicting a stylish woman in sunglasses with flowing white hair.”

Why you should buy an anti-ageist birthday card?
October 19, 2023

“[Sara Breindel, Co-Director Changing the Narrative] We’ve all been surrounded with negative messages about older people and we now believe them about ourselves. We don’t realize we have this implicit bias — even about ourselves. Our negative beliefs about aging actually hurt our ability to age well. Receiving positive card messages can help us celebrate a milestone rather than fear it and start to chip away at the idea that aging has nothing to offer.

It’s easy to say, “I’m going to grab the first thing I see in the card aisle.” People might take a second look and ask, “Is this a positive sentiment?” Every time we purchase something, we’re telling the industry, “there’s a market for this.” If we start picking up cards that are more age-positive, it can change what companies sell. People looking for age-positive cards can find them on our site, but wherever you buy them, we encourage you to think about the message you’re sending.”

Workforce equity: Employers stuck in ‘time warp’ about older workers
October 20, 2023

“When policymakers, even well intentioned, are talking about aging policy, we don’t talk about employment. When people are talking about employment and workforce development policy, you would be hard pressed to see older workers as part of it,” [Janine] Vanderburg said. “We have a systemic issue of workplace age discrimination, and also one that’s pretty much ignored by policymakers.”

Is everyone a little bit ageist? How to fight back
October 25, 2023

“‘Ageism is really invisible,” the symposium’s keynote speaker, Tracey Gendron, said. Gendron is the chair of the department of gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University. ”Ageism is not innate. It is taught.”

It also makes people feel invisible — along with depressed, disrespected, devalued, marginalized and overlooked, said Kris Geerken, co-director of the Changing the Narrative anti-ageism
initiative. “Research shows that ageism can shorten our life span by seven and a half years, accelerate cognitive decline [and] increase anxiety and depression.”

Artists Create Age-Positive Birthday Cards as Part of Changing the Narrative’s Anti-Ageism Campaign
November 11, 2023

“Our goal at Changing the Narrative is to not only raise awareness and understanding of ageism but also to make a real-world difference,” she [Janine Vanderburg] said. “We want to change how people think, talk and act about aging and ageism; we want to change the messages we hear in our workplaces, in our doctors’ offices, and in our everyday lives; and we want to change the stories we tell about ourselves as we age. Sharing “happy birthday” messages that celebrate aging instead of mocking older people is an important step in changing the stories that our culture feeds us about getting older.”

Welcome to the Guilted Age
November 18, 2023

“I wish this were the only example of Guilted Age thinking, but it is not. “The US has too many retirees” said a headline on LinkedIn last week. Janine Vanderberg, director of the anti-ageism initiative Changing the Narrative, was quick to respond, “It’s time to rewrite this headline!” Despite media sounding alarm bells in recent months over “the great resignation” or “the great retirement,” Vanderberg points out, research shows what was really happening was companies deliberately shedding older workers (which gives a reality check to proposals that we should work longer).”

The New Rolling Stones Tour Will Be Brought to You by AARP
November 25, 2023

“I’d be tempted to say, ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss,’ but I won’t. This tour is a great illustration of one of my core beliefs: It’s not too late. Rock-and-roll musicians, like the rest of us, don’t come with expiration dates,” said Janine Vanderburg, co-founder and senior strategist of Changing the Narrative, which works to raise awareness about ageism through workshops educating the public about ageist language, beliefs and practices. “I personally can’t wait to catch the tour.”

Greeting Card Association Member Spotlight: Age-Friendly Vibes
December, 2023

“I was inspired by an anti-ageist birthday card contest held during COVID by Changing the Narrative, a national campaign that brings awareness to ageism. When researching funny, clever, and snarky cards, I was astounded at the number that mocked age. (Jan Golden, founder of Age-Friendly Vibes)”

Many birthday cards mock getting older. These artists are painting a different picture
December 18, 2023

“Birthday cards calling someone “over the hill” or making fun of them for getting older are so common that many people don’t think twice about them. But Sara Breindel is hoping you will.

Breindel is co-director of a Denver-based anti-ageism campaign dubbed Changing the Narrative. And when it comes to how we talk about getting older, she’s been trying to do just that.

Dismayed by “the racks of birthday card options that mock older adults as weak, deaf, forgetful and crabby,” the group created a contest asking artists to design birthday cards with a more “age-positive” approach.

Breindel says the winning designs, and others like them, are sending a powerful and critically important message.”

Use these strategies to overcome internalized ageism
December 31, 2023

“Fortunately, ageist beliefs are not set in stone and are malleable according to Becca Levy, Yale Professor of Epidemiology as noted in The Washington Post (Aug. 17, 2023) and author of “Breaking the Age Code” (HarperCollins, 2022). To prevent internal ageism and to help us adopt an age thriving attitude, Levy developed the ABC method, one of age liberation. It consists of increasing awareness, placing blame where it is due and challenging negative beliefs.”

Recommended resources include a link to Changing the Narrative.

2022 Press

Hired at 65!
January 9, 2023

Janine Vanderburg is the director of Changing the Narrative Colorado, an anti-ageism advocacy and awareness organization. Her team digs deep into the issue of ageism in America, and Vanderburg has personally led 42 workshops on this subject across the state since 2018. Vanderburg and her team are convinced that many employers are missing a major opportunity by undervaluing older workers and applicants.

“We need to educate employers on what they are missing out on,” said Vanderburg. To that end, her team created a presentation called “A Business Case for Older Employees.” The idea is to focus less on the legal issues and more on the business opportunity. Vanderburg said this is an easy sell once she is in the door. “When we educate employers about the business case, most of them get it.” Nevertheless, the preference for “younger” talent persists. “In the workplace there is a belief that younger is better,” said Vanderburg.

These biases permeate through our working culture in more ways than one. Ageism in the workplace can be overt, but more often it is subtle. Vanderburg explained to me three categories of ageism: institutional, interpersonal, and internalized.”


‘Over the hill’ birthday cards are getting old. Wish someone happy birthday with an age-friendly card instead
Market Watch, October 20, 2022

“In this longevity economy, there’s a huge market for 50 and over that’s tired of being made fun of,” [Janine] Vanderburg said. “There’s awful cards out there that reflect the stereotypes and reinforce the stereotypes. We hope to change that, spark the conversation and raise awareness.”

Changing the Narrative launched a campaign in 2020 with age-friendly greeting cards sold on its website. Now, it’s seeking 10 greeting card designers to create additional cards that will be sold in stores and online. The artists will get $500 and promotional support from Changing the Narrative.

“Having age-friendly cards in the same aisle as all the other cards could help start conversations and show there’s a different way to talk about aging,” Vanderburg said. “Society in general is ageist. We’re always talking about fighting aging. Battling aging. People buy antiaging creams. The stereotype is that we all decline, deteriorate and are technologically-impaired. But there’s different conversations to have.”

NightSide with Dan Rea: Changing the Narrative
October 6, 2022

Radio Broadcast: “Are old age jokes funny or just plain mean? What about those “over the hill” birthday cards? Is it time we “change the narrative” about aging? Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing The Narrative, a campaign group devoted to changing how people think, talk, and act about aging and ageism joined Dan.”


How ageism harms individuals, society and the economy
October 2, 2022

“Here are a few words and phrases you may read or hear that have ageist implications. They have been summarized by Changing the Narrative, a strategic communication campaign to increase awareness of ageism with reference to Research by Frameworks.  

  • Referring to people in older adult communities as patients; they are residents, even in assisted living environments.
  • Description of all older adults as frail, weak and vulnerable.
  • Referring to the growing demographic of older adults as the “silver tsunami,” “gray wave” or the “demographic cliff” suggests that older people are a natural disaster.
  • And then there is the word “still.”  Expressions of “still working,” or “still exercising” suggest that you are the exception since more adults cannot do what you are doing.  That’s a big assumption.”

Get Back to Work: Your Guide to “Unretirement”
September 30, 2022

“They’ll also guide you through how to talk with hiring managers in ways that will highlight your strengths as an older worker — and preempt any age bias you may face in interviews, [Janine] Vanderburg says. One example she offers is how employers often fear that a worker in their 50s and 60s won’t be responsive to being managed by a younger boss. “So being able to give examples of when you’ve learned from younger people can go a long way,” she says.”


How do you stamp out ageism? This state wants to try.
September 29, 2022

“Janine Vanderburg, director and chief catalyst at Changing the Narrative in Colorado, said she believes Maine’s efforts can make a difference and help eradicate ageism.

“We don’t wave a magic wand and ageism disappears. But goals are important. The more we’ll all spreading these ideas around, the more work gets done,” Vanderburg said.”


Birthday cards say ” you’re over-the-hill”. Anti-ageism activists say “enough”.
September 21, 2022

“Maybe birthday cards are a way we can educate more people about ageism,” said Janine Vanderburg, 69, director and chief catalyst of the nonprofit, who grew up in New Bedford and is now based in Colorado.

Invited to deliver a keynote speech to the Greeting Card Association last year, Vanderburg used the opportunity to call out toxic attitudes toward older people. Since then, Changing the Narrative has been marketing a line of about two dozen “anti-ageist” birthday cards designed by artists it commissioned. Their messages are more uplifting, if less catchy, than the purportedly funny cards: “Another year older, wiser, and more grateful,” and “You are not too old. It is not too late.”

But those upbeat offerings are just a pilot project, Vanderburg said. She’s now urging commercial card makers to follow her group’s lead.”


The Grey Zone: Breaking the Age Code: It’s an All-Ages Imperative
August 15, 2022

“When longtime Northside resident Janine Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative, got a call from Dr. Becca Levy, Ph.D., about connecting her audiences with Levy’s new book, Vanderburg didn’t hesitate.

“The first few chapters about Dr. Levy’s research are what I’ve found in my work to be what makes the book so effective, and dangerous,” Vanderburg said. “I consider the book dangerous because it forces all of us away from the ideas that ageism is ‘just another -ism’ or ‘something that happens to somebody else.’”

“Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and How Well You Live” opens with Levy’s decades-running research—now confirmed by 400 studies across five continents—into the ways internalized beliefs about aging influence how we actually age.”


Colorado businesses have a hiring problem. Leaders are turning to older workers, immigrants as solutions
June 13, 2022

“Janine Vanderburg sees the tight labor market as a potential boost for her work on dealing with ageism and advancing opportunities for older Americans. Vanderburg, director of Colorado-based Changing the Narrative, said many older workers didn’t just decide to retire when the pandemic hit, but were laid off or encouraged to quit when companies scaled back during the recession.

“There’s this myth going around that there’s been this Great Retirement and all of us who are boomers’ age decided to quit and we’re off on cruises, living off 401(k)s,” Vanderburg said.

A large portion of the retirements since March 2020 happened after periods of unemployment, indicating people didn’t voluntarily retire, according to a report by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School.”


What we wish healthcare providers knew about ageism
June 12, 2022
Kris Geerken & Gilliane Lee

“As professionals deeply engaged in health care and public health for older adults, we appreciate Gene Goffin’s June 5 column “How ageism leads to worse health for seniors.” So many people we meet and care for, including ourselves, run into that exact problem in health care settings. Goffin writes, “A conscious effort by our society encouraging seniors about their competence is (one researcher’s) prescription” and “effective programs can improve seniors’ attitudes about themselves.” We have some recommendations for how to do exactly that.

Ageism is one of the least recognized biases. When ageism occurs, it negatively impacts our health, can decrease our lifespan and increases the costs of health care. But we’re not helpless.”


What will doubling the percentage of elderly people by 2050 do to the U.S. workforce?
June 1, 2022

“Proceeding hand in hand with medical advancements, that exploding demographic will live longer and wants to keep working past whatever “retirement age” label other people still hang on them.

“I believe that we are going to see that term retire over the next decade,” said Janine Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative, a global campaign meant to eliminate ageism. “We’re starting to see more and more people talk about un-retirement, non-retirement, etc.”

“The most important thing to remember is that as we age, we get more different from each other, a result of a lifetime of accumulated experiences,” Vanderburg said. “The notion that there should be one retirement age is really outdated.”


‘I needed something to do’: How working in retirement is being embraced by older adults and companies
May 17, 2022

“Employing people to work part time in retirement helps address what Janine Vanderburg calls ‘the talent paradox.” She runs Changing the Narrative, a Denver-based campaign to change the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism.”

“We have all the ‘For Hire’ signs and we have all the [prospective] older workers,” says Vanderburg. She’s starting to see an increase in the number of employers who, she says, “are like, ‘Of course, older workers!’”


Ageism in Healthcare – What Does it Look Like?
March 27, 2022

“Have you ever been told your health concerns are simply because of your age? Have you ever felt unheard or invisible during a medical appointment? I sure have! This is ageism in healthcare, and it’s a big problem. It may look like this: (Read more in the article online)”


Why does ageism continue and what can be done about it?
March 13, 2022

“As society becomes increasingly aware of ageism, we hear little about the important work being done for a course correction. Here is some of that work as an assurance that ageism is not being ignored.”

Changing the Narrative was one of the resources featured: “Changing the Narrative, Colorado: This is a strategic communication and awareness campaign to increase the understanding of ageism while changing how people think, talk and act about aging and ageism . . . “


It’s More Important Every Day to Get Anti-Ageist Message Across
January February 2022, page 31

“Ageism is entrenched and pervasive in all elements of society. We can’t rely on teh “experts” to solve this for us. At Changing the Narrative, we believe that we all much “AGEnts” of change, and so we provide people with the tools and training to lead to change in their own networks and communities.”

Correction: Author’s last name is Greshem, (not Greshen), and Changing the Narrative’s website is not as listed in the article. It is “”.

Colorado must address workforce age discrimination
January 18, 2022
Op-ed by Janine Vanderburg

“We have a paradox going on in Colorado: employers are desperately looking for talent, and older adults are desperately looking for work. But workforce age discrimination makes it difficult for older Coloradans to fully contribute to the labor market.

For years, older workers from every corner of the state have told me their frustrating and often heartbreaking stories of age discrimination that prevented them from landing needed jobs, that they faced once in the workplace, and that they felt as they were forced out.”

“There are many reasons to work toward ending workforce age discrimination. There are ways to do it, and there’s no time to waste.”

2021 Press

Douglas County Hosts Anti-Ageism Contest
December 20, 2021

“The Seniors’ Council of Douglas County and its partners, Changing the Narrative Colorado, the Douglas County Libraries and the Douglas County School District, worked together to support anti-ageism by sponsoring an amateur poetry contest called Every Age Counts! The contest was open to Douglas County residents of all ages competing in several age groups and a panel of judges recently selected the winners.

Congratulations to Helen Ostrowski, Nic Hussey, Rebecca Hensley, Montana Moore, Gina Popolizio, Jolene Croall, Carol Reed and Ron Saatjian! You captured your unique perspective and literary creativity in poems that presented the positive aspects of aging.”

Ageism in the Healthcare Industry
December 20, 2021

“According to Changing the Narrative group and their partners, ageism is a real problem in the healthcare industry. It impacts our health, lifespan, and economy. In partnership with the Boulder County Area Agency on Aging (BCAAA), Changing the Narrative created a short video, a compilation of interviews with professionals and advocates who serve older adults and are experts in their fields.

“Our goal for this campaign is to teach people about the connections between ageism and poor health outcomes and to mobilize both older people and health professionals to advocate for more age-friendly and age-inclusive health systems,” said Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative.

In November, a virtual webinar discussed ageism in the healthcare industry. . . . The video “Antidotes for Ageism” discusses the issues with ageism with older healthcare patients by a panel of advocates and experts in the healthcare industry. All of the featured panelists discussed their views on how ageism affects older adults and methods to overcome ageism.”

Every Age Counts! Winners Announced
November 29, 2021

“The Seniors’ Council of Douglas County and its partners, Changing the Narrative Colorado, the Douglas County Libraries and the Douglas County School District, worked together to support anti-ageism by sponsoring an amateur poetry contest called “Every Age Counts!”

The contest was open to Douglas County residents of all ages competing in several age groups. Contest materials were available in Spanish to encourage our Spanish-speaking residents to participate. A panel of judges composed of teachers, librarians and a published poet recently selected the winners.

Congratulations to Helen Ostrowski, Nic Hussey, Rebecca Hensley, Montana Moore, Gina Popolizio, Jolene Croall, Carol Reed and Ron Saatjian! Each poet captured his or her unique perspective and literary creativity in a poem that presented the positive aspects of aging. The partners and judges applaud your accomplishments and your willingness to take a stand against ageism.”

What it’s like to hunt for a job in Colorado when you’re over 50
Older workers dropped out of the state’s labor force during the pandemic. Some say age discrimination keeps them from getting a new job
November 24, 2021

“In early 2020, Changing the Narrative was planning for a big year. The age-focused organization, funded by the NextFifty Initiative, spent the prior two years conducting workshops and gathering insight on ageism. The focus for 2020 was on age-friendly workplaces — and getting employers to publicly say they hire older workers.

“We literally had somewhere in the vicinity of 12 to 15 companies reach out and say, ‘Yes,’ because there’s a talent shortage. And boom. The pandemic, right? Everything shuts down,” said Janine Vanderburg, Changing the Narrative’s director. “A number of companies that had reached out to us basically said, ‘Call us back at the end of 2020.’”

But what may have hurt more was the narrative of older adults getting sick and dying of COVID.

“We had our highest elected officials, governors across the country, all of our elected public health officials saying daily: poor, weak, vulnerable elderly, poor, weak, vulnerable elderly. And they were literally defining elderly as ages 60 and 65,” said Vanderburg, who is 68. “It contradicts the underlying message of valuable older workers.”

There is social value and quantitative value. Older workers bring life experience, can provide mentorship or fit into managerial roles. Keeping older adults employed gives individuals a sense of purpose, which in turn has positive health outcomes, according to various studies.

There’s also the business case. Older workers tend to stay with their employers longer, reducing turnover and the costs associated with filling that role.”

What roles should vaccination status, age play in decisions if Colorado has to ration health care?
November 21, 2021

“The concern is not only that the system could discriminate, but that it may not provide an accurate picture of people’s risk, [Janine} Vanderburg said. She said advocates for the aging community would like to see the supplemental points taken out, to put the emphasis on how well people’s organs are functioning.

“Being age 50 is no more a predictor of dying in the next year than if you’re younger,” she said. “That is, to me, the essence of stereotyping and discrimination.”

Reshaping Underlying Ageism Beliefs
NCWIT re:think Magazine, Fall Issue 2021, article by Janine Vanderburg

“Why is it important to consider age and ageism as part of diversity, equity and inclusion? The world is aging and changing. A graph put out by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how the population is shifting. In 1960, we had a population pyramid, with a large number of younger people tapering up to a very small number of older people. In 2060, by contrast, it’s projected that that we will see relatively equal numbers of people across the age span.

This is a massive demographic shift, and it requires a new way of thinking about what the workplace looks like. It is not going to be a race to see who can attract the most young people. We’ve got to learn how to accommodate older people, and not just accommodate them, but about think about what kind of opportunities this shift could provide for us. Unfortunately, many of our current polices and practices are geared towards that 1960 pyramid.”

‘Covid Hit Us Over the Head With a Two-by-Four’: Addressing Ageism With Urgency
November 5, 2021

“Tackling ageism at the grassroots level. In Colorado, Changing the Narrative, a strategic awareness campaign, has hosted more than 300 workshops educating the public about ageist language, beliefs and practices in the past three years. Now, it’s launching a campaign calling attention to ageism in health care, including a 15-minute video set to debut in November.

“Our goal is to teach people about the connections between ageism and poor health outcomes and to mobilize both older people and [health] professionals to advocate for better medical care,” said Janine Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative.”

During the pandemic, ageism may have gotten worse in the workforce
October 26, 2021

“Early in the pandemic reports started circulating describing how many folks were opting for early retirement, because they were concerned about catching COVID-19. But many feel it had less to do with workers’ concerns and was rather related to management making decisions based on the age of their employees.

“Well, the reality is older people didn’t retire. They were pushed out or laid off or furloughed,” says Janine Vanderburg the Director of Changing the Narrative.

During the pandemic when media, politicians, and doctors drew attention to older folks’ vulnerability to the virus; Vanderburg says something drastic happened in the workforce. “What got planted in the minds of people, who maybe already have ageist attitudes about older people, is wow, we can’t have those people working,” adds Vanderburg.

20 Years of Successful Aging: Here’s what readers wanted to discuss
October 24, 2021

“Some readers were insulted by birthday cards that made fun of aging, although they were in the minority. A caring wife was upset at what she considered insulting birthday cards sent to her husband she described as an “intelligent, charming and handsome husband.” He received jokey cards from each of his children on his 60th birthday. Another offended reader at age 77 called such cards “insipid and maudlin.” Yet another reader believes we need to change the narrative. “I love the humor but (the cards) I saw were crap.” She liked the anti-aging cards from “Changing the Narrative,” a non-profit organization committed to end ageism together. ”

Studies show age bias in hiring increased during pandemic
October 8, 2021

“Ageism hurts us on every single level: it hurts us financially, hurts us health-wise because, and I think this is why it’s so hard to get people to go on camera,” said Janine Vanderburg, executive director of the group Changing the Narrative that works to combat ageism. “People don’t want to admit that they think that there’s something wrong with them instead of there’s a systemic issue going on which is called age bias.”

Campaign Writes Off Stereotypes of Aging
October 4, 2021

“Attend “milestone” birthday festivities and you’ll notice certain trends: somber black decorations and talk of being “over the hill. Working in senior living, you know that there can be challenges to getting older. But for most people, aging is not necessarily a negative experience. I’m late to this party but just found out about a pretty cool initiative that is part of Changing the Narrative’s anti-ageism campaign.”

Untrained Wisdom podcast: Anti-Ageist Birthday Card Activist Janine Vanderburg
September 14, 2021

Listen to an interview with Janine Vanderburg: “When we look at those birthday card racks, right, they have the ‘it’s all downhill’, they have people having medical problems. For women, especially, the images are really grotesque. So we’re like, ‘Why would you give a card like that to a friend?’ And we just started thinking, ‘Why not do an anti-ageist birthday card campaign?’ But it really started with Lori just saying. ‘Wow. I’ve been talking to people about ageism and, for the first time ever, I didn’t get one of those awful cards.”

For some seniors, pandemic trials have brought renewal
September 14, 2021

Birthday card artist Sandra Bierman featured: “Now in her 80s, Ms. Bierman has spent the pandemic at a retirement community in Boulder, Colorado, where she grew depressed under the lockdown that began March 2020. Roughly a year passed, she says, before she conquered enough fear to leave her hallway.

Yet isolation also opened a new level of introspection. She says as months wore on she reflected on her goodness – her lifelong impulse to serve others. Volunteering to teach peers art classes via closed-circuit television last spring was proof. That September, she built up the courage to submit some past work to an anti-ageist birthday card campaign. She was accepted.”

Many people retired early because of the pandemic than expected, many not by choice
August 27, 2021

“Janine Vanderberg is the director of a Colorado-based initiative called Changing the Narrative, a campaign against age discrimination, something she says has increased during the pandemic.

“They were laid off. They were pushed out. They had their hours reduced. They had their salary reduced. I’ve heard hundreds of stories of people who not only want to work, but need to work basically for survival and are not able to,” she said.”

Certified Age Friendly Employers Value Maturity
August 27, 2021

“Currently, many businesses are missing out on the well-researched benefits of older workers. Older workers represent a deep pool of talent that is too often underutilized because of misperceptions and stereotypes that simply don’t hold up. Studies consistently show that older workers maintain their productivity and bring the soft skills — reliability, creativity, and a lifetime’s experience of adapting to change — employers seek.

Changing the Narrative has partnered with the Age-Friendly Institute to increase awareness of the critical role older workers can play in meeting our workforce demands. The Certified Age Friendly Employer (CAFE) program recognizes organizations committed to being the best places for older people to work and assists age 50-plus job seekers by identifying age friendly employers.”

Tackling Workplace Discrimination
August 18, 2021

“In 2018, a national study found that 56% of Americans who entered their fifties with stable employment were laid off or pushed out; only 10% ever recouped financially. A recent survey by AARP found that 78% of people between the ages of 40 and 65 have either seen or personally experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

This is no surprise to Coloradans aged 50 and over. Since starting Changing the Narrative, we’ve repeatedly heard: “That ageism you’re talking about? It has happened to my dad, my partner, and to me.” A study we conducted this summer bears out this personal testimony: Nearly 1/3 of Coloradans age 50+ reported that they had experienced age discrimination.”

How to Make Healthcare Less Ageist
August 17, 2021

A Changing the Narrative campaign aims to reduce ageism by doctors, hospitals and medical staffers

“We know we live in an age of unconscious bias, and people who work in health care aren’t immune to that,” says Janine Vanderburg, founder and director for Changing the Narrative, which is focused on ending all manner of ageism.

Her new campaign aims to bring ageism in health care to the attention of those who need it most: older patients who experience it and the health care providers who interact with them.”

Take Hope: Combating Ageism, One Birthday Card at a Time
July 20, 2021

“[Erika Righter’s] latest line of cards, created during the pandemic with Janine Vanderburg, director of the anti-ageism campaign Changing the Narrative, offers a fresh take on birthday cards for older adults, which too often exploit self-deprecating tropes and shaming, showing older people as grumpy, fragile, ill or lonely. These cards turn those stereotypes on their heads.

To find artists for the series, Changing the Narrative held a contest for which applicants provided a statement about why they cared about the issue, their demographics and samples of their work. Winners were selected based on their portfolios and statements. The creatives chosen range in age from 16 to 82 and span races, genders and sexualities.

The cards have garnered national attention, with write-ups in big newspapers and magazines for older adults. Vanderburg delivered the keynote address at a national greeting-card convention, where she spread her anti-ageist message; she hopes that the project will inspire bigger corporations to cut back on demeaning cards and offer better alternatives.

“We’re not trying to be the birthday card police,” Vanderburg says. “We’re trying to say there’s a better way of doing things.”

How Colorado is Tackling Age Diversity in the Workforce
May 31, 2021

“Unlike states that focused more on long-term care and health care and other traditional aging topics, here we had a focus on workforce,” says Janine Vanderburg, head of Changing the Narrative, a campaign to alter the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism. “I am optimistic that despite post-pandemic worries, Colorado will be in the forefront of older workers.”

Her optimism reflects insights from a tantalizing moment just before the nation went into COVID-19 lockdown.

May is Older Americans Month! Ageism Theme: Communities of Strength
May 17, 2021 by Janine Vanderburg

“With the powerful theme of Communities of Strength as a rallying cry, is it time for all of us to make a renewed commitment to reframing aging and to rejecting terms that diminish older adults and reinforce negative stereotypes? Here are just a few words and phrases it’s time to discard, if you haven’t already: Senior, senior citizen, elderly”

We Can’t Combat Ageism by Directing it at Younger People
May 11, 2021, by Janine Vanderburg

“I sometimes hear older people angry about their experience with workplace age discrimination comparing themselves to younger workers. “They don’t have a work ethic, they are entitled, they think they know everything,” they say. This is the classic us versus them narrative, in this case pitting generations against each other. We heard this a lot during 2020, with the pandemic sowing fertile ground for tales of intergenerational warfare.”

“Intergenerational connection and education is effective in reducing ageism against older adults. We cannot combat the very real problem of ageism directed against older people by diminishing the experience, insights and knowledge of those younger. It’s time to forge another path.”

Changing the Narrative Releases Report on Older Adults in the COVID Era Workplace
April 24, 2021

“Our intent is that this report will be used to help inform programming and shape policies designed to assist people age 50+ gain access to meaningful work that fully uses their talents and abilities,” said Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative. “As the economy begins to return to normal, people will be seeking work and needing resources to do so. Now that we better understand the common characteristics, experiences, and needs of adults age 50+ impacted by COVID-19, we can inform employers, the state, local counties, workforce development centers, and nonprofits as they design solutions and programs that will help people age 50+ get back to work, benefitting older adults, employers, and Colorado’s economy.”

Author Elizabeth White Reveals Workplace Discrimination Issues
April 12, 2021

“Changing the Narrative Director Janine Vanderburg and the Denver Public Library hosted a webinar on age discrimination in March. Janine interviewed book author Elizabeth White, a Harvard MBA graduate, aging solutions advocate, blogger, TedTalks speaker, and lecturer, on her 2019 book, “55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal.” Elizabeth discussed workplace age discrimination and the financial vulnerability of many older adults. The interview with Ms. White identified specific actions adults can take to push local officials and policy makers to prioritize these retirement income and workplace issues.

Janine indicated in a recent survey that many respondents had issues with workplace age discrimination and had no recourse as Federal laws don’t really protect older adults from workplace age discrimination. Elizabeth indicated one-third of laid off workers experience age discrimination. An Urban Institute survey indicated over 52% of workers over 50 years old were laid off. Unfortunately, over two million laid off workers gave up looking for jobs due to age discrimination issues.”

Survey suggests half of older Colorado workers are looking for jobs in wake of pandemic
March 31, 2021

“About half the Coloradans older than 50 who responded to a new survey said they are looking for work because of the pandemic. About half of those looking for a job are interested in changing their line of work.That tracks, as unemployment for older workers across the country nearly doubled from February last year to this year, according to the ageism-fighting nonprofit Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based campaign against ageism in the workplace.”

“Now that we better understand the common characteristics, experiences and needs of adults age 50+ impacted by COVID-19, we can inform employers, the state, local counties, workforce development centers and nonprofits as they design solutions and programs that will help people age 50+ get back to work, benefitting older adults, employers and Colorado’s economy.”

Artists celebrate age with age-positive birthday cards​
March 22, 2021

“Changing the Narrative is a national movement that seeks to show how older people contribute to both the community and the workforce with their knowledge and experience. According to Director Janine Vanderburg, Colorado was the first state to establish a reframing aging initiative. Based in Hotchkiss, Vanderburg often travels to bring Changing the Narrative’s message to audiences across the state.”

“Out of 60 entries, two of the 23 card winners hail from Colorado’s Western Slope.” 

Beacon, The Voice of Adults 50+ in Western Colorado

Why There’s Nothing Funny About Ageist Greeting Cards
February 21, 2021

“We know that ageism is acceptable and embedded in our culture. Birthday cards seem to affirm that acceptability and Vanderburg wanted to do something about it . . . The goal is not to sell cards, but rather to start conversations about ageism. Proceeds are used to contract artists to produce original designs and to support educating people about ageism and workplace discrimination against older workers.

I asked Vanderburg about ageist cards as a vehicle for humor, allowing us to laugh at ourselves making sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Her reply, “My message is clear; don’t send ageist birthday cards.”

Loveland artist chosen for age-positive birthday card competition
February 5, 2021

“A Loveland artist was one of 23 winners of a birthday card competition put on by a Colorado initiative focused on changing the way people think about aging. A colorful card by Tobias “Mustang” Moreno was chosen by the Changing the Narrative organization, which is selling the winning age-positive cards on its website,, and hopes to get them into stores.”

Janine Vanderburg “said the idea behind the competition came from a talk she had with a volunteer who, after discussing ageism with her friends, received a number of normal birthday cards for her 70th birthday instead of the cards mocking older people that are common in stores.

“What those birthday cards do … is reinforce, in the minds of the general public, all the negative stereotypes of older people,” Vanderburg said.”

2021 is the time to lead the charge against ageism
February 3, 2021

“During 2020, the need to talk about ageism . . . became clearer than ever. Consider how ageism was exposed during the pandemic. COVID-19 was originally dismissed as a disease affecting only older people . . . Older workers were pushed out of the workforce in higher percentages than any other groups. Personal protective equipment was not initially made available in congregate living settings . . . “

“Yet 2020 also demonstrated the resilience and contributions of older adults . . . Together, this has created an opportunity in 2021 to talk about ageism and its harmful effects . . . The good news? All of us have opportunities to address ageism.”

Colorado Artists Create Age-Positive Birthday Cards as Part of Changing the Narrative’s Anti-Ageism Campaign
February 3, 2021

“It’s time to celebrate age! Older adults are often curious, active, and engaged, yet so many of my birthday card choices mock older adults or make aging seem like a period of decline, depression, and dependence,” said Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative. “The fact is, we are living longer and healthier lives that give us the chance to do more and become more. Older age has its own unique benefits to celebrate and now we’ve made cards to do just that.”

KVNR Regional Newscast
February 2, 2021

On air interview (at 2 minute mark): Changing the Narrative director Janine Vanderburg explains anti-ageism campaign featuring greeting cards designed by locals like Cara Helmick of Orchard City & Lu Anne Tyrell of Montrose

Local artists’ special birthday cards selected to be sold by the group ‘Changing the Narrative Colorado’
February 1, 2021

“In a media release from Jan. 25, the anti-ageism group “Changing the Narrative Colorado” announced that two local residents — one from Orchard City, the other from Montrose — were selected on a special project. That project is a collection of anti-ageism birthday cards. Two of the overall 23 artists selected were Cara Helmick from Orchard City and Lu Anne Tyrell of Montrose.”

“For Helmick, the opportunity to enter her card design into the contest came quickly after she discovered Changing the Narrative, and she was enthusiastic to take the opportunity.

“I was first introduced to Changing the Narrative Colorado when they did a seminar in Montrose about two years ago,” Helmick said. “That was where I was introduced to Janine Vanderburg (organization director) and all of them on Facebook and that kind of stuff, so when they offered the opportunity to do the birthday card campaign, I jumped on board.”

Talk of the Town: Grand Junction Sentinel features local artists in birthday card campaign
January 31, 2021

“Cara Helmick of Orchard City and Lu Anne Tyrell of Montrose were among the 23 Colorado artists chosen to have their works included on “anti-ageism” birthday cards produced by Changing the Narrative.”

Anti-ageism efforts take form of birthday cards
January 30, 2021

“Changing the Narrative created a statewide initiative for artists to submit their own version of birthday cards that celebrate getting older. Recent studies, such as the National Poll on Healthy Aging from the University of Michigan, found that on a daily basis, 82% of older adults report experiencing forms of ageism. Other studies show how this may be harmful to our health: older adults who reported experiencing three or more forms of “everyday ageism” had worse physical and mental health than those who reported fewer forms of ageism.

The goal of the initiative is more than creating age-positive birthday cards. It’s to kickstart a conversation about something that will eventually affect everyone, which inspired Montrose winner and Baby Boomer LuAnne Tyrell to submit her cards.”

New Colorado greeting card line celebrates aging
January 24, 2021

“Make it to your 30th birthday and chances are good you’ll receive a card adorned with black balloons telling you it’s all downhill from there. Which couldn’t be further from the truth, says the Denver anti-ageism group Changing the Narrative. The campaign is particularly frustrated with the racks of greeting cards perpetuating the notion that the older you get, the worse off you are: deafness, forgetfulness, crabbiness. Ageism isn’t funny, though, says the campaign. It’s harmful.

Last year, the campaign announced a contest for Colorado artists to create greeting cards that celebrate aging, instead of the all too familiar narrative that revolves around decline, depression, loneliness and dependence. The result is 23 new $6 cards that are available for purchase online at Anti-Ageist Birthday Cards.”

Artists Promote Anti-ageism Birthday Card Campaign
January 11, 2021

“As older adults in Colorado, we are happy to be agile and healthy even during these trying times. We all want to spread the message and the attitude of positive aging and challenge “everyday ageism.” That’s the reason the anti-ageism group Changing the Narrative decided to produce age-positive birthday cards, designed by Colorado artists, that reflect the joys of growing older.” article by Janine Vanderburg

Colorado Artists Create Age-Positive Birthday Cards as Part of Changing the Narratives Anti-ageism Campaign
January 8, 2021

“It’s time to celebrate age! Older adults are often curious, active, and engaged, yet so many of my birthday card choices mock older adults or make aging seem like a period of decline, depression, and dependence,” said Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative. “The fact is, we are living longer and healthier lives that give us the chance to do more and become more. Older age has its own unique benefits to celebrate and now we’ve made cards to do just that.”

2020 Press

Breaking the Age Barrier: Biden Can Move the Needle on Older Adults in the Workforce
December 30, 2020

“Americans hired a 77-year-old for President by electing Joe Biden. With the age glass ceiling now broken, it’s time for us to recalibrate our thinking and policies about older adults and work.

In Colorado, we have created a model for changing this dynamic so that our state can reap the benefit of intergenerational workplaces. Our approach can serve as a blueprint nationally” Op-ed by Janine Vanderburg & Tony Tapia

CAFE Certification Combats Workplace Ageism
June 1, 2020

“It may become easier for Colorado job seekers age 50 and older to identify employers where their seasoned skill sets are welcome and valued. Through Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based initiative designed to prevent workplace ageism, businesses and employers that meet specific requirements can earn the Certified Age-Friendly Employer (CAFE) classification.”

Why People Really Start Businesses in Retirement
May 28, 2020

“The older independent contractors, Hershbein noted, are overwhelmingly highly educated and often come from managerial or professional occupations. What they’re frequently looking for, he said, “is more control over their life.”

That rings a bell with Janine Vanderburg, 67, of Denver, who left the consulting firm she ran in 2017. Now, Vanderburg is director and chief catalyst at Changing the Narrative Colorado, a campaign to increase understanding of ageism and shift how Coloradans think about aging.”

Changing the Narrative on Invisibility and Ageism
March 13, 2020

“Changing the Narrative focuses on the flipside of the invisibility my students and so many others experience: ageism. She (Janine Vanderburg) reminds us that exploring ageism allows us to focus on where solutions are possible. It invites each of us into reflection and creativity around the type of community we want for ourselves and one another.

Last fall, Changing the Narrative spurred on 60 “on the same pAGE” cross-generational conversations across Colorado, and beyond, bringing circles of friends, neighbors and coworkers together to talk about ageism. And it is getting ready to start the next round of conversations.

One solution Vanderburg was sure to highlight: look at people for who they are, and not through the many filters of assumptions and stereotypes you may have picked up over the years.”

Colorado workplaces can seek age-friendly stamp
March 7, 2020

“Colorado businesses committed to rooting out ageism in the workplace will be able to earn an “age-friendly” seal of approval under a new program managed by a nonprofit that is working to change perceptions about older adults.

The program by Changing the Narrative, an age-friendly workplace initiative, is part of a national effort by a Boston-based foundation that started the certification as a way to identify good places for people 50 and above to work. Colorado businesses, organizations and government agencies could soon join a list of certified age-friendly workplaces that includes The Honey Baked Ham Co., AT&T, Crate and Barrel, The Home Depot and Starbucks.

Karen Brown, the initiative’s director, said the idea to bring the program to Colorado grew out of a series of workshops and training sessions held across the state. In the sessions, led by Janine Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative, people said ageism exists and that it’s most prominent in the workplace.”

Changing The Narrative” trains workplaces to become be a “Certified Age-Friendly Employer” (CAFE)
March 4, 2020

“Beginning this month, the “Changing the Narrative – Age-friendly Workplace Initiative” (CTN-AFWI) is rolling out a certification program aimed at Colorado employers and businesses that are committed to eliminating ageism in the workplace. CTN-AFWI will help them adapt their policies, procedures, and programs so that they can become a “Certified Age-Friendly Employer” (CAFE).”

Why More Employers May Become Age-Friendly
March 3, 2020

“The unemployment rate of 3.6% nationally (2.5% or less in five states) means businesses, governments and nonprofits are scrambling to find workers and hold on to the ones they have. Combine this with an aging population and thinning numbers of young adults and “there will be no alternative but to recognize the value of older workers,” said Karen Brown, director of Changing the Narrative’s Age-Friendly Workplace Initiative in Denver, at the conference.”

The politics of aging leave a lot to chance in Colorado
March 3, 2020

“Janine Vanderburg, the director and “chief catalyst” for social change at Changing the Narrative Colorado, told me I’m thinking about this all wrong. “It’s not a problem, she said. It’s a solution.” Her organization is out to end ageism in the workplace and offers free training and recognition to those who make the effort. “Businesses are struggling to get workers,” she said. “They’re struggling to get good talent. How ridiculous is it not to consider older workers as part of your talent mix. . . People are living longer and we have a declining birth rate in Colorado,” Vanderburg pointed out. “If a Colorado employer thinks he’s just going to get more young’uns to replace young’uns, there’s not going to be enough young’uns there.”

The politics of aging leave a lot to chance in Colorado
February 27, 2020

“Janine Vanderburg, the director and “chief catalyst” for social change at Changing the Narrative Colorado, told me I’m thinking about this all wrong. “It’s not a problem, she said. It’s a solution.” Her organization is out to end ageism in the workplace and offers free training and recognition to those who make the effort. “Businesses are struggling to get workers,” she said. “They’re struggling to get good talent. How ridiculous is it not to consider older workers as part of your talent mix. . . People are living longer and we have a declining birth rate in Colorado,” Vanderburg pointed out. “If a Colorado employer thinks he’s just going to get more young’uns to replace young’uns, there’s not going to be enough young’uns there.”

As Coloradans grow older, there’s a push for policies that benefit all ages
February 12, 2020

“People said, ‘That workplace discrimination issue that you’re talking about, that difficulty of finding a job? Happened to me, happened to my dad, happened to my partner,’” Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative, said about what she heard at every single session. “We started realizing that we couldn’t just talk about reframing aging to older people. We needed to talk about reframing aging to employers, and if you will, reframe the older worker in their mind.”

As Coloradans grow older, there’s a push for policies that benefit all ages
February 12, 2020

“People said, ‘That workplace discrimination issue that you’re talking about, that difficulty of finding a job? Happened to me, happened to my dad, happened to my partner,’” Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative, said about what she heard at every single session. “We started realizing that we couldn’t just talk about reframing aging to older people. We needed to talk about reframing aging to employers, and if you will, reframe the older worker in their mind.”

Workshop Aims to Address Ageism in Society
February 7, 2020

“The truth is ageism is everywhere, from boardrooms to courtrooms to classrooms,” said Janine Vanderburg, initiative director for Changing the Narrative in a release from the organization. “But all of us living longer and for the most part healthier lives, we must move away from outdated policies and systems that were established when the average lifespan was much lower. We can apply our spirit of ingenuity and innovation to think differently about how our communities can work for people of all ages. Rather than cling to myths, we should embrace older adults’ wisdom as the hidden treasure it is. he valuable experience of older adults can help solve our economic and societal problems. ”

Are Colorado Businesses Ready for the Aging Workforce?
February 2020

“Changing the Narrative, a NextFifty-supported campaign, educates businesses about the value of older workers, and the Denver Economic Development & Opportunity department is partnering with the AARP Foundation to help firms change their hiring processes so retirees can more easily re-enter the workforce.”

For a healthy aging workforce policy, look to Colorado
January 24, 2020

“Yet, policy alone does not shift public perceptions on aging and age discrimination in the workplace. In Colorado, the policy advances are being paralleled with an effort called Changing Narrative Colorado. This initiative is based on national research by the FrameWorks Institute, a non-profit that works to shift perceptions and increase public understanding around social issues.”

2019 Press

Successful Aging: How to fight ageism and change outdated attitudes
December 26, 2019

“This [Changing the Narrative Colorado) strategic communications and awareness campaign is designed to increase understanding of ageism and to change how those in Colorado think about aging. It is a movement that trains advocates, policymakers and other influencers in aging by using evidence-based communication tools and messages developed by Frameworks Institute and tailored for Colorado audiences. . . .Their goal: end ageism.”

Bridging generations, Cherry Creek students act as volunteer “geek squad” for retirement community 
November 28, 2019

“Janine Vanderburg, director of Changing the Narrative in Colorado, an anti-ageism campaign, said research on intergenerational programs is ongoing, but the most successful ones tend to start with a clear intention, like reducing ageism or social isolation. Done well, intergenerational programs can reduce the belief that older people no longer have anything to offer, she said.”

Older Coloradans are working longer and demanding an updated set of tech skills
November 19, 2019

“Changing the Narrative is tackling ageism locally. The campaign, which is funded by NextFifty and the Rose Community Foundation, wants to change how Coloradans talk about aging, starting with discouraging the use of the word “senior.”

“Those terms in and of themselves are not inclusive and carry a lot of negative stereotypes, including stereotypes that older people aren’t willing to learn technology, older people aren’t productive and so on,” said Janine Vanderburg, its director (who also thinks Senior Planet should ditch the S word). “The preferred terms are older adult, older person” and using a person’s actual age.”

Graying workforce, low unemployment changing way employers look for workers
September 3, 2019

“Last week the chamber hosted Karen M. Brown, director of the Age-Friendly Work Place Initiative, an offshoot of the Changing the Narrative Campaign, for a presentation to make a case for age-friendly and intergenerational workplaces to leverage the strength and talent of people of all ages.

More and more Americans are living longer than before, and many of them are keen on working beyond what were once considered retirement years, Brown said. It’s not logical to assume everyone turning 62 or 65 is looking to stop working, she said.”

Forbes: Ageism, A Moral and Personal Dilemma for Our Time, July 15, 2019

“So, how do we avoid ageism in ourselves and help to fight it? How do we change the conversation around aging itself? That is the question being asked by professionals in aging and the growing aging population at large in the U.S. in 2019.“

“In Colorado, the Rose Community Foundation has launched an awareness and communications campaign to create a “more just, inclusive and age-integrated Colorado.” It’s called “Changing the Narrative.” Their initiative is doing cutting-edge awareness building . . .”

KGNU: Womyn Air: Rethinking Aging, June 17, 2019

From the interview of Janine Vanderbury by Miriam Schiff: “Ageism can be directed at people of any age . . . but we know that ageism is significantly directed at older people. . . Research shows that (ageism) affects our physical health, our mental health, memory. If people are experiencing ageism in the workforce, it certainly affects their financial security and one of the things people don’t talk about much, but they should, is how it negatively it affects our workforces in our community. When, all of a sudden, we have a group of people who are pushed out and marginalized, the build up of experience, wisdom and strength they have is no longer being used by the employer, (and) that is harmful for communities as well.”

Grand Junction Sentinel letter to the editor: We need a comprehensive plan to deal with aging population, May 14, 2019

“Thanks to La Villa Grande Care Center for hosting an important event titled “Changing the Narrative..Ending Ageism. Together.” The event explored changing the way we think, talk and act about aging, a topic that hit home hard in Mesa County which is the second fastest aging county in Colorado.

About 30 local members of nonprofits, government agencies and senior communities took part in the event including some citizens just interested in aging issues.

Various census information shows 16 percent of our county living under poverty levels. Approximately 5,000 of those are 60 and over. While some excellent community organizations are available to help, the consensus was that many elderly falls through the cracks.”

Colorado Public Radio: More and More Coloradans are Still Working, But Their Jobs are at Risk, May 14, 2019

“In the Centennial State, nearly a quarter of all people 65 or older are still working, according to data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. That rate has doubled since 2000.

But at the same time, older workers risk job discrimination and even loss because of their age. That’s where Janine Vanderburg and her Denver-based campaign against ageism, Changing the Narrative, come in.

But even as the rate of aging coworkers rise, they still face a number of misconceptions, Vanderburg said. Some include being digitally incompetent, unwilling to learn, more expensive and less healthy, all of which are unsupported by research, she said.

“Generally, generational stereotypes are dangerous,” Vanderburg said.

These adversities and stereotypes are what Vanderburg targets with the Changing the Narrative campaign, which hosts workshops, management trainings and other outreach programs to advocate for aging workers.

Changing the Narrative even pushes back against certain kinds of language. Research shows that words like “senior,” “senior citizen” and “elderly” all trigger negative stereotypes in the public, Vanderburg said.”

KGNU: Changing the Narrative, April 25, 2019

“Changing the Narrative is a strategic communications and awareness campaign to increase understanding of ageism and to shift how Coloradans think about aging. By changing the way that people talk and think about aging and ageism, Changing the Narrative will be setting the foundation for more productive policies and practices that support well being for all of us as we age. They are having a photo contest and soliciting pictures of vital, engaged, active older Americans. Initiative Manager Janine Vanderburg talks with host Rae Solomon.”

Highlands Ranch Herald: A call for change in how we talk about aging, March 5, 2019

Column by Janine Vanderburg: “So why do we need to change the narrative about aging and older people? Here are three reasons:

  • The current stories that we hear in the media portray getting older as a time of decline and deterioration, and ignore the very real contributions that all of us can make as we age. Older people are often portrayed as “takers” who will bankrupt the economy, when the reality is that 42 percent of the state’s GDP is contributed by people ages 50-plus.
  • The persistence of these stereotypes often leads to workplace discrimination. A national study released in December found that 56 percent of people who had entered their 50s with stable employment were pushed out or laid off. At the same time, many companies in Colorado are desperate for workers to sustain their growth and our overall economy. Investing in and retaining older workers, instead of discriminating against them, is a way we can keep our economy strong.
  • Finally, we know that having positive attitudes about aging also gives us a longevity boost. Another study found that people who think positively about aging live on average 7.5 years longer than those who have a negative view.”

The Denver Post: Combating ageism in Colorado, initiative promotes older workers as a way to address state’s tight labor market, March 1, 2019

“Colorado’s unemployment remains low. The labor market remains tight. A lack of enough skilled workers to fill spots could be a drag on the economy. And Colorado’s over-65 population is the third-fastest-growing in the nation.

Janine Vanderburg will say challenges associated with the first three situations can be addressed in a significant way by the fourth. Armed with reams of research, personal stories of people across the state and backing from the Rose Community Foundation, the Next50 Initiative and other partners, Vanderburg is heading the initiative “Changing the Narrative,” whose goal is to change perceptions about older adults.

“Who decided that the prime working age was 25 to 54,” asked Vanderburg, referring to federal workplace data. “That’s a policy that was set a long time ago and it’s no longer relevant because we’re living longer and are generally healthier.

Vanderburg said research has shown that a diversity of ages can increase productivity; older workers can serve as mentors while younger workers can share their knowledge and skills.”

50Plus Marketplace News: Ending Age Discrimination, January 15, 2019

“Next Fifty Initiative and the Rose Community Foundation in collaboration with Partnership for Age Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado (PAFC) and A Little Help sponsored a seminar on age discrimination, aka Changing the Narrative in December at the Chilson Center in Loveland.

Janine explained common terms as Silver Tsunami, baby boomers, and seniors are not preferred terms with today’s older population. Another study on evaluating ageism conducted by the Frameworks Institute determined how the public thinks about the older population between 50 to 80 years old. The study concluded the older population is considered lonely and depressed, has health problems, relies on Social Security, doesn’t have enough money to survive, needs better instruction, not active, and feels it’s us versus them attitude. The public has cognitive holes on ageism and their social detriments.

What methods work in shifting our opinions on aging? Providing effective story telling methods help to change opinions and generate solutions against aging. Janine gave several examples of story telling.”

North Forty News: How Old Are You? Addressing Ageism, January 7, 2019

“ “Language is important,” she (Janine Vanderburg) insisted. “The words we use make a difference.” She’s an advocate of banishing the “senior” word in favor of “older adult” or simply being specific and using terms such as “55 and up or 55 and better.”

“We should celebrate old age,” Vanderburg said. “It’s normal. It happens to everyone and under the right circumstances, it can become an opportunity for growth and a time to make a contribution to society.”

2018 Press

Longevity Colorado: Why Ageism Exists and What’s Being Done About It, December 12, 2018

“Ageism is still a sanctioned form of discrimination. If you raise the issue of ageism, people will either laugh about it or say that you’re taking yourself too seriously. The FrameWorks Institute’s research found that a lot of people across the country don’t understand what ageism is or that it exists. So, it’s important that we’re getting the word out to as many audiences as possible that ageism is real and there are things that we can concretely do to overcome it.

With the launch of this ambitious campaign – our goal is nothing less than to end ageism in Colorado.”

No CoPay Radio: Changing the Narrative Colorado, October 6, 2018

“The thought behind Changing the Narrative is that the general perceptions of older people and aging are pretty negative and subject to a lot of inaccurate stereotypes.”

“How do we address this (the fundamental demographic shift to an older population) as a community? How do we both look at the challenges and the opportunities that that provides for us as a community? So what we are doing at Changing the Narrative are training people in new ways of messaging and talking about older people. We are trying to increase awareness that ageism exists and what it is,” explains Janine Vanderburg about CTN’s mission. “A lot of things about aging are actually positive and older people are not necessarily a burden and can be an incredible contribution to their communities.”

The Denver Commission on Aging honored Janine Vanderburg of Changing the Narrative CO and Joining Vision and Action with a 2018 Mayor’s Diversity & Inclusion Award, October 4, 2018

“For three decades, Janine Vanderburg has led consulting firm Joining Vision and Action, which has helped thousands of individuals and organizations involved in community and social change to strategize, hear from community, fundraise, develop leadership and evaluate impact. In 2018, she launched Change the Narrative in Colorado, a statewide strategic communications campaign to shift public perceptions about aging and ageism.”

9News: Changing the Narrative on Aging, September 9, 2018

“The Rose Community Foundation says it’s time to start treating older Americans as assets, not as liabilities and to do that we need to change how we talk about them. Many people may wonder why this matters. Instructor Janine Vandenberg answers that question in all of her “Changing the Narrative” sessions.

“Why should we care about this? Well, the first thing is, and I know that many of you working in this field are already aware of this, that by 2030, one in five Coloradans is going to be 65 and older. It’s a fact. It’s just a fact,” Vandenberg tells her students.”

Just a Number, an Interview with Janine Vanderburg about Changing the Narrative, June 8, 2018

“But right now if you listen to popular media, if you’re doing something like reading the paper, typically what you hear are narratives that pit younger people against older people, that have headlines like “Boomers versus Millennials”- that have a lot of zero sum thinking we’re either going to support programs for older people or we’re going to fund education for young children. And given that all of us are aging and that we have increased longevity in our country- actually a good thing, as it shows all of these advances in medical science that people are living longer- the public conversation that we should be having is “how do we make the most of this?” How do we bring that spirit of innovation and thinking about how we do things in new ways? And unfortunately we’re not there. And so the initiative that I’m running is basically designed to get people to talk about this and to share research-based methods of shifting public perception about what it means to get older.”

Changing Aging: An Interview with Alan Dempsey, June 2, 2018

“The reality is that we are living longer and healthier lives. And most of us do not feel like checking out at age 62 or 65. Those are basically just made up numbers from a time when people did not live as long.

The idea of just checking out when you have all of this strength and talent and experience seems a little bit absurd, not only for all of us who are aging, but also for the community to not have access to the talent that is out there.”

Stria News: Changing How We Talk About Aging: Moving from Research to Practice, March 27, 2018

“Leading organizations in the field are waging an uphill battle to transform the way society talks about older age.

“People don’t even know they are being ageist, as they equate the idea of aging with decline and disability,” said Janine Vanderburg of Colorado, one of the trainers, who has been assigned by the Rose Community Foundation in Colorado to deliver workshops to audiences that will include government agencies, policymakers and nonprofit organizations.

If the initiative works, advocates say, common media narratives about old age will be put to rest, such as singling out people who are novelties–like the 93-year-old who runs marathons–or stories that call out for pity, like the 72-year old with advanced dementia, whose spouse is too weak to lift her out of bed to bathe her.”

New Campaign Fights Ageism in Colorado, March 7, 2018

“Changing the Narrative will focus on three key strategies: training organizations and community leaders on effective ways to talk about aging, a social media campaign to challenge negative images of aging, and community organizing to challenge ageism. The campaign is based on in-depth national research on effective ways to change attitudes and perceptions.

“Americans are leading longer and healthier lives,” says Janine Vanderburg, who manages the initiative. “If we are a just society, how can we continue to push out people who have many creative and productive years ahead of them? Ageism hurts everyone, and this movement is about ending it.”

Rose Community Foundation Announces Changing the Narrative, an awareness & communications campaign, January 31, 2018

“Therese Ellery, Rose Community Foundation Senior Program Officer – Aging and Encore Network leadership team member shared news about a transformative new program:

We are excited to announce the launch of a new Rose Community Foundation partner initiative, Changing the Narrative, a cutting-edge awareness and communications campaign to create a more just, inclusive and age-integrated Colorado.

The project will be managed by Janine Vanderburg, who brings over three decades of experience in community and social change. Janine is a certified FrameWorks Institute Reframing Aging Trainer, a founding member of the Colorado Encore Network and a member of the national Network leadership team. She served two terms on the Denver Commission on Aging, where she led strategic planning to help Denver become an age-friendly community.”

Skip to content