The Importance of Reframing Aging

Recognizing Fraud and Scams
July 16, 2022

“You look great for your age!”
“When do you plan to retire?”

We are all guilty of saying something that we meant as a compliment but in reality, feeds into negative stereotypes about aging. These are symptoms of a global issue – ageism. According to the World Health Organization, “ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.”

Popular culture and the media do not help. Aging is portrayed as shameful – something to hide (“I’ll never tell my age”). Look in any magazine or watch commercials and you will find younger models selling youth creams and procedures. Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks, notes the only time we see older adults in advertising is for cruises and medicine.

A few years ago, Dartmouth conducted a worldwide study showing there is a U-curve to happiness. We are happiest in our youth and in our old age. So why is one end of this curve celebrated and envied, while we are embarrassed, ashamed, or even disrespected at the other end? There is a growing movement for a fundamental shift in our thinking. It’s called reframing aging.

 

Through this movement, the goal is to change the public perception of what it means to age. Thinking differently about aging is not a new idea, but as adults live longer and healthier, reframing aging has gained a lot of traction in the last couple of decades. There are numerous organizations working on ways to help shift the collective mindset. The FrameWorks Institutes has a library of tip-sheets for small actions we can implement in our daily lives. The American Geriatrics Society has volumes of research. But one of our favorites
is the Reframing Aging Initiative. They have videos, brief articles, stories, and tips on how to better recognize our own biases and how to do things a little differently. Check out reframingaging.org for more helpful tips.

Aging Life Care Managers are working to help this change – although we all still stumble sometimes. For instance, we have stopped using the term “geriatric,” as research has shown that people prefer the term “older adults.” But care managers like us, who interact with aging clients every day, are only a part of the solution. We encourage you to take some time to learn more. As you go about your day, how can you be more aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions toward aging adults? We all get older, and because aging adults are a part of each our lives, everyone of us can be part of this shift.

– Byron

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