Mar 22, 2022

To help us understand what Reframing Aging is about, we interviewed longtime Older Adult Behavioral Health Network member Melissa Donegan.

The Reframing Aging Initiative is a long-term social change endeavor constructed to improve the understanding of what aging means and the valuable contributions we can make at any age. Good ideas have no age limit, and experience and wisdom can be used to benefit everyone.

To help us understand what Reframing Aging is about, we interviewed longtime Older Adult Behavioral Health Network member Melissa Donegan.

What is your job? I am the Assistant Director of the Healthy Living Center of Excellence, a statewide aging health and wellness program striving to promote the independence of older adults by empowering them and their families to take more active roles in their health care.

What is Reframing Aging? Reframing Aging confronts ageism by telling a new story, one that emphasizes an individual’s ability to participate and contribute to society in meaningful ways regardless of age. Our words matter. Changing the way we talk about aging will change attitudes, help us shed limiting self-beliefs and, ultimately, advance policies and programs that support us all at every stage of life.

How has the Reframing Aging curriculum impacted you professionally and personally? I am more aware of my implicit bias and how ageism effects the work I do and how my friends and I talk about ourselves. I find myself “Reframing” everywhere; at work, to my family, cashing out at Trader Joes!

How does ageism impact people’s wellness? Ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life and premature death. Older adults often are denied healthcare coverage, have limited ability to find employment, and treatable conditions too often are overlooked as “part of aging”.

“Good ideas have no age limit, and experience and wisdom can be used to benefit us all.”

What value does Reframing Aging have for providers, advocates, and people in the community? Reframing Aging is about changing the way we communicate about aging: the words we use and what we emphasize and what we don’t. Research shows that by the age of 3, Americans already have negative assumptions associated with aging. We see aging as binary and something we want to avoid. We take measures to keep our appearance young. We view older adults as senile, and we are surrounded by jokes and negative messages about getting older. When the country spends money on the young it is viewed as an investment, but when we advocate for older adults it is seen as an expense.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about Reframing Aging?
Reframing Aging can be done by anyone, anywhere! Learning a few tips on how to “reframe” your messaging and conversations can go a long way!

To learn how ageism harms us all, how to counter ageism, and how to be an agent for change, join Melissa as she presents Break Down Silos: Reframing Aging on April 29 at 1 p.m. Register here. Event flyer here.

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