Meg LaPorte
Jordan Evans

The pandemic has given us a few reasons to take on ageism as an industry. To begin, the fact that nursing homes and assisted living communities were not prioritized for receipt of PPE and testing early in the pandemic points to an ageist attitude about older adults, especially given the fact that COVID-19 had a much more deadly impact on those of us who are older.

Another reason for raising awareness of ageism within the field is that the institutional, medical model upon which nursing homes were built could be considered ageist in their original design. Warehousing people away from society and applying a medical model of care to them speaks to an attitude that views older adults as “other.” Good providers know that the medicalization of housing for older adults no longer works because it assumes that institutional practices are good for everyone and that all older adults want to eat, bath, and shower at the same time every day. 

How can senior living leaders act now to address ageism within their communities? To begin, they can educate themselves on the topic by tapping into resources like the Old School Anti-Ageism Clearinghouse, a website that contains an extensive resource library devoted to all things anti-ageism. Here are a few other things they can do at little or no cost to their budgets:

1. Submit an art project about #OldPeopleAreCool by April 19 on the #ActivitiesStrong website.

A recent collaboration between Linked Senior and Art Against Ageism, a nonprofit that identifies, amplifies and creates artistic endeavors that confront and tackle damaging stereotypes about age and aging, is taking the movement to end ageism into aging services communities by leading an art contest that amplifies age positivity. Activity professionals, as well as residents and staff, can participate in this project to make it a community-wide effort that shows off their creativity.

2. Visit the Art Against Ageism Website to sign up for email updates on strategies and tools for artistic activism.

Charles de Vilmorin

There are many ways in which senior living providers can harness the creative talent within their communities to tackle ageism within their buildings and in and around their own neighborhoods. Art Against Ageism works with providers to help them marry art and creativity with the strategic aim of marketing and communications to create something known as “artistic activism.” 

Socially conscious artists have used artistic activism via a multitude of art forms — visual, literary, musical and performing arts — to remark on, respond to and advocate for change for centuries. Art has had a significant historical impact on social change, such as civil rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights. Leaders can find a champion in their community (an Activity Director or another staff member) to support them in developing creative endeavors that combat ageism. Here is an idea that can be replicated at a community on a small budget.

3. Earn Free CEUs on April 26th by Attending the Leveraging the Power of Art to Change Perspectives About Aging Webinar.

Linked Senior and Art Against Ageism will host this free #ActivitiesStrong webinar on Tuesday, April 26, at 1:00 p.m. EST.  Leaders will be able to learn how to create their own “actions” to combat ageism in their communities and spread the word about the value and worth of older adults. 

We hope you will join us on our journey to identify, amplify, and create artistic and creative endeavors that confront and tackle ageism. Let’s end ageism, creatively!

Meg LaPorte is a longtime writer and communications specialist with a passion for creative and entrepreneurial approaches to changing perspectives about older adults. She recently co-founded Art Against Ageism, an alliance of creatives, artists, and advocates committed to identifying, amplifying, and creating artistic endeavors that confront and address damaging stereotypes about age and aging.

A 2019 graduate of the Erickson School of Aging Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Jordan Evans is a passionate anti-ageism advocate. He seeks to change perceptions and stereotypes around age and aging. Jordan’s work focuses on bridging gaps in the senior living space by bringing together younger and older generations in conversation as a workforce development solution for senior living. His desire to tackle ageism that affects all ages led him to co-found Art Against Ageism.

Charles de Vilmorin is the CEO and co-founder of Linked Senior.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.