James Lewis and audience at the Senedd

Changing Perceptions on Ageing

The Next Steps.

We successfully launched our Think Differently About Ageing initiative to change people’s perceptions on ageing with a host of influential speakers at the Senedd in Cardiff. Now we are looking forward to the next steps of the campaign.

Action For Elders brought together a wide range of politicians, broadcasters and experts on ageing to examine the urgent need to change how UK society and older people themselves look at ageing. We also heard from participants of our Balanced Lives programmes who told of their experiences of ageism.

Broadcasters and Politicians Join The Campaign

Broadcaster Beti George, who introduced the event, started her career in the early 1970s. She called for the voices of older people to be heard. “Ageism is rife and we must change that.”

Mike Hedges MS, Member of the Senedd for Swansea East spoke of Cross Party Group Perspective and support for the campaign: “Action for Elders are doing a phenomenally good job of removing the cloak of invisibility for those over 65. You don’t change from being a human being to an ‘old person’ at 65.”

The event was attended by leading politicians: including Jeremy Miles MS; Minister for Education & Welsh Language, Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services in Wales and Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales and Leader of Welsh Labour. All those present at the event agreed on the need for some urgent dialogue and direct action to tackle the ongoing problem of structural ageism.

The Welsh Perspective

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Helena Herkots spoke at the event and offered the Welsh perspective:

“This is the first country in the world to set up an independent role of an Older People’s Commissioner to promote the rights of all older people in Wales. I particularly like the new social movement that Action For Elders is establishing to tackle Ageism in all its forms. A movement based on Age Liberation, both to the self and society at large.”

Changing The language of Ageing

James Lewis, Action For Elders Founder, speaking to Saga Magazine, outlined the thinking behind our practical approach:

“Ageism is a global problem and we need to act as a society to change Structural Ageism, which works on so many fronts and covers so much of our lives. We also need to change ourselves in how we feel and think about ageing. At the end of the day ageing is just another stage of life, like being a child or becoming a teenager.”

The Practical Side of the Campaign

The practical side of our campaign is our Balanced Lives programmes and Social Hubs which bring people together to encourage social connection. These help build physical and mental strength, by encouraging exercise and wellbeing. Our Think Differently About Ageing campaign is all about normalising good quality of life during the ageing process.

Mariann Aalda, star of TV, stage and film, told us via video message how to live later life to the full by Ageing Shamelessly: “We are older now, but we we are still pretty rowdy, rallying against ageism and for the positive ageing movement; because as Dylan Thomas might say, ‘we are not going quietly into the good night’.”

Dr Becca Levy, Yale Professor and pioneer in ageing research also contributed to the event. In her influential book, Breaking The Age Code, she points out that negative age beliefs can act as a barrier to good mental health, but she has a positive outlook:

“Structural ageism in the field of mental health care, like our own individual negative age beliefs, is reversible.”

Moving Forward

We are moving forward via further consultation with politicians and public bodies. We are also planning a series of ‘Tackling Ageism’ Workshops for the older community at our Balanced Lives programmes with very special guest speakers, so keep an eye out for upcoming events on our events pages

Our aim is to encourage members of the older community to share ideas and offer solutions. If you have experienced ageism and want to share your experiences, please contact us and you can be part of the solution.

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