Older people taking a selfie while playing cards

Partnering to Reframe Aging in Minnesota

Jennifer Syltie Johnson

How do we think about aging? How do we talk about aging? Our thoughts and words about how we age—and how others age—are complicated and continually change throughout our lifetime. We are all part of the aging population—and we all have a responsibility to shift the conversation on aging. 

Ageism affects all of us and in more ways than we realize. The World Health Organization defines ageism as how we think through stereotypes, how we feel through prejudices and how we act through discrimination. Ageism exists on multiple levels—interpersonal, compassionate, systemic or institutional, and self-directed. 

“When we look at society, we are not treating older people as equals,” said Rajean Moone, PhD, LNHA, LALD, FGSA, associate director of policy at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Healthy Aging and Innovation. “In many aspects, we marginalize older adults. As we see a demographic shift of an older society, it’s critical for us to think about what it means for us to age, our attitudes and beliefs about older Minnesotans, and bring research-based information to help us reframe how we address aging.”

Expanding our understanding of aging

A partnership between the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (MN GWEP), the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging, Minnesota Board of Aging, University of Minnesota School of Public Health’s Center for Healthy Aging and Innovation, and Age Friendly Minnesota has hosted workshops in 2024 to gather more than 1,300 people in the aging sector to present and discuss strategies to reframe aging. The research-based principles presented in the workshops are based on research from the National Center to Reframe Aging. 

“We have a collective responsibility to each other,” said Adam Suomala, MPA, president and executive director of the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging. “The effects of ageism are pervasive in the systems that support our lives—such as how we shape our environments, build age-friendly communities, and model a respective community responsibility.” 

Through monthly one-hour interactive educational workshops under the umbrella of Reframe Aging Minnesota, the partner organizations offer proven communication strategies to effectively frame aging issues and tools to help end ageism through research-based framing strategies. Participants in past workshops include leaders in aging services, communications professionals, health care workers, and more. 

“We often view aging as something we don’t want to do, but we should all be grateful for the gift of aging,” said Moone. “If we are able to change the way we talk about aging and older adults, we can directly change people’s behavior, thoughts, and attitudes.”

For those interested in going beyond the one-hour introductory workshops, the partnership also offered two deeper dive sessions at the University—an immersive workshop called Fundamentals and an intensive framers cohort called Core Elements. Framing includes the decisions made as communicators on aging, such as how to introduce a topic, what to emphasize or leave out, and whether or how to explain an issue. 

“Regardless of our role, we all take some responsibility to think about aging and bringing that aging lens into our work,” said Suomala. “As Maya Angelou said, ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.’"

To learn more, visit the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging’s website:
Generations Work: An Introduction to Reframe Aging

Minnesota Board on Aging
Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (MN GWEP)
Age Friendly Minnesota

Friends & Co.
Minnesota Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Pathway Health
Presbyterian Homes & Services
Stratis Health


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