Example from an Association of Area Agencies on Aging
As the number of people living longer and choosing to live in their communities grows, the need for a well-resourced system of community-based support grows as well. Unfortunately, too many people who need support to live well while aging at home are unable to secure the help they need. A history of underbudgeting for aging services created today’s challenges, like unjust wages for care workers, resulting in a workforce shortage. Changing how elected officials fund services requires changing how the public thinks about aging. This begins when we shift how we communicate about aging and older people.
Beth Kowalczyk, Chief Policy Officer for the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, is using the evidence-based tools of the National Center to Reframe Aging to rally people from across the state to demand greater investments in the systems serving older Ohioans.
Trained as a National Facilitator, Beth is teaching staff from the State Unit on Aging, the network of Area Agencies on Aging, age-friendly communities, and other stakeholders to use the National Center’s evidence-based tools. Through social media, op-eds, press conferences, and State House testimony, advocates have reshaped the conversation. As Beth told legislators, “As we live longer and healthier lives, this presents new opportunities for our communities. ...Now is the time to try out new ideas and innovative approaches to improve how our society supports older people and responds to aging.”
Their reframed messages are generating results. Ohio’s new State Plan on Aging (2023-2026) employs effective and inclusive frames to describe a vision for a state where everyone “can age with grace and dignity in the setting of their choosing with rich, meaningful opportunities to contribute and thrive.” The legislature approved a State Budget with significant funding increases in aging services, increasing rates by more than 30%. This creates the opportunity for direct care worker wages to increase from $10-12 to $18/hour over the next three years. That’s a win that improves the lives of care workers and the older adults who rely on them.
When Beth advocates for aging services, she wears a button with a special message, “Aging so cool, everyone’s doing it.” -- a saying created by Christine Happle in 2018. As more people understand we are all in this together — public opinion and government funding will shift to better support people at every age.
Join the Movement to Reframe Aging
The National Center to Reframe Aging is developing tools to help advocates across the country effectively communicate for policies and funding that support the well-being of all of us as we age.
- Is your community part of the movement to reframe aging?
- What changes in your community can you influence by using well-framed messages about aging?
- How can the National Center to Reframe Aging help you shape policies that work for all of us as we age?
Reach out to the National Center team to learn how you can inspire change within your state!