Approaches – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Approaches

  • Overview

Overview

Aging equity is about health equity: The pro-equity focus of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform supports Health & Medicine’s overall mission to advance health equity for all Illinoisans. The approach seeks to advance policies and programs that redress ageism and other inequities in our society that overlap with and compound ageism.

Life course perspective: Inequities experienced throughout life shape the aging process across our entire life courses. These inequities shape our health at all ages, determine whether we reach older adulthood, and lay out what kind of quality of life we can expect if we do.

Intersectionality: Ageism overlaps with other systems of inequity and oppression that harm health and deny people of their inherent dignity. Our intersectional approach challenges the aging field to consider overlapping and compounding systems of oppression that affect individuals with various marginalized identities.  Aging equity requires counteracting and redressing all systems of oppression, not only ageism.

Systems of oppression include but are not limited to racism, anti-Blackness, white supremacy, socioeconomic class inequity, gender inequity, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, anti-immigrant bias, white nationalism, ableism, ageism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other identity-based discrimination, hatred, and deprivation.

Intersectoral approach: Supporting aging equity also requires an intersectoral approach that seeksequity and justice not only in the aging sector of services, but in every other facet of life, including health care, education, transportation, housing, workforce participation, the broader economy, the criminal legal system, greenspace, and more.

Given this, our approach includes a focus on structural inequities—the policies, systems, and norms that stratify the distribution of the social determinants of health. We seek to build bridges with sectors that are typically considered outside of “health” because we know that everything we encounter shapes our health.

Reframing aging: Ageism exists not only in structures, systems, and policies—but also in attitudes, day-to-day interactions, and broader narratives and myths told about older persons and the aging process. Our efforts to reframe aging seek to counteract and replace the ageist narratives and attitudes that guide our collective understanding about what aging should and can be for people.

We reframe aging as a lifelong process that requires a life course perspective. Because we are all aging all of the time, conversations about aging are not limited to older adults. We must all consider our place in advancing aging equity and shaping the type of society we want, including the conditions in which we may provide care for loved ones and the ways we are cared for and about as we age.

We also seek to use language that promotes justice, momentum, meaning, and purpose as we all age. By reframing aging, we help our society reimagine aging in terms of the true opportunities that exist and benefit everyone as we age. This effort has been informed by the Reframing Aging initiative, which you can learn more about here.

Movement building: Advancing aging equity requires the development of a movement of people and organizations to transform systems and policies to support aging equity across the life course. To make progress on social determinants of health and aging equity, we mustbuildi power for health equity and dismantle and redress structural inequities. That’s why we’ve launched Illinois Aging Together, a statewide movement for aging equity. Learn more and get involved here.

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