On June 14, the American Society on Aging (ASA) hosted a community roundtable “Ageism in America: Reframing Its Issues and Impacts.” Presenters John Feather of Grantmakers in America and Bob Blancato of ASA discussed new research and potential policy ideas to combat ageism.

“We must make it socially unacceptable to have ageism,” said John Feather, CEO of Grantmakers in Aging.

Referencing the new report, Gauging Aging, Mr. Feather discussed some of the predominant negative messages around aging:

  • When you age, you are either vibrant or helpless, there is no middle ground.
  • If your aging process is unsuccessful, it is your fault.
  • Older people already receive many benefits that others do not. Why should they get more?
  • Strong mistrust of the government and its ability to meet your aging needs.
  • Ageism does not exist and it won’t impact you negatively.

While there is no easy solution, Mr. Feather discussed ways to change the conversation on aging through positive stories, age-friendly community projects, and building coalitions with other fields.

“The aging network doesn’t have all the answers, we need to work with all fields and ages to beat ageism” said Mr. Feather.

Presenter Bob Blancato discussed the surprising lack of aging issues coverage in the 2016 election, despite the fact that the candidates are the oldest in American campaign history and that older adults now make up 23% of the population.

He also updated the group on the following proposed legislation that could impact ageism:

  • Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act
  • RAISE Family Caregivers Act
  • 21st Century Cures
  • Mental health treatment reform

The event ended with an engaged audience Q&A, with many good questions to spark future discussions.

This was the 1st in a series of 4 community roundtables on ageism. Stay tuned for recaps on future events.