As we as a society are getting older but staying healthier and happier, a lot has to be done to shift the narrative around aging into something far more positive.
Committed to slaying the #Ageism Dragon, Janine Vanderburg has been working to change the negative perception we all can have about aging.
As the former Executive Director and current Senior Strategist of Changing the Narrative, Janine has built programs, delivered incredible research, and helped to advance our own perceptions around aging and what it means in our society.
Starting Her Ageism Fight
With over three decades of experience in community and social change, Janine has always believed in leveraging the talents of everyone at every age.
One of the things that she realized as she was getting older was seeing friends and colleagues getting pushed out as they got older. Other friends were mentioning they were feeling invisible and even dismissed because of their age.
Some foundation leaders then asked her to start Changing the Narrative in 2018. As they did workshops and got into the communities, they found that ageism was a huge factor and that it interferes with living our best lives as we get older.
Changing the Narrative became a focus for changing how we talk about aging, how inclusive we are for people of all ages, and the shortcomings that they face.
I talked quite a bit with Janine about her beginning of Changing the Narrative in this interview last year:
How to Change the Narrative Around Aging
With Changing the Narrative, Janine knew that they had to lead the conversation around aging in a way that was beneficial for everyone.
Their volunteers are typically older adults that help increase social connection and fight the root causes of anti-aging philosophies.
In the US, Vanderburg knows that we have an ageist mentality that we have to work against, and that can be a tough uphill battle. Even though our intentions are not to segregate by age, it happens a lot with simple things like Senior Centers or even Child Protective Services.
Moving beyond the “well-intentioned” to changing how we actually view aging and ageism has involved community workshops to teach and share information with community members, leaders, and even policymakers.
Older adults are just other people in the community. Janine wants to remind us that we are all mentors, friends, neighbors, entrepreneurs, coworkers, and community members who have just as much to offer as those in other age groups within the community.
Personally, I’m so grateful for Janine and others like her who are working to show where we have ageism bias and how we can change it for the better.