Reframing Aging – A Workshop for Leaders and Advocates was held on March 8, 2019. This one-day seminar focused on how we can work together to change the conversation about older adults in middle Tennessee and influence public understanding to create a more just, inclusive and age-friendly society.

The Reframing Aging approach, developed by the renowned FrameWorks Institute, is based on extensive social science research that explored public perceptions of growing older and the profound impact of messaging on those perceptions. Several communities across the country have launched Reframing Aging initiatives and two states (Maine and Colorado) are implementing statewide initiatives.

The workshop in Nashville, sponsored by The West End Home Foundation, was attended by 80 persons representing 46 different organizations that work with older adults. Included among the 46 organizations were nonprofit agencies, governmental agencies (local, regional and state), faith-based organizations and educational institutions. John Beilenson, a FrameWorks Certified Master Trainer and President of SCP, a socially responsible communications agency focused on aging led the session.

It was an enlightening day filled with many “ah ha” moments. A recurring theme from participants was the realization that the messages used to communicate their work with older adults could be so much more compelling and engaging. An example of reframing a message is:

Before: The United States is experiencing a silver tsunami that will create a burden on our society to address the needs of this growing elderly population.
Reframed: As Americans live longer we need to find creative solutions to help us all thrive as we age.

Aside from the program content, perhaps the greatest value of the day came from the assembly of 80 professionals who all share a passion for making a difference in the lives of older adults. The workshop was an opportunity to foster a sense of community among diverse organizations and learn from each other.

The West End Home Foundation concluded the day with the announcement of a mini-grant program for attending agencies. A limited number of mini-grants, up to $1000, are available, through a special application process, to help agencies get a jump start on reframing their messages. Dianne Oliver, Executive Director said that “the workshop isn’t intended to be a one and done. Our vision is that today is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation and transformation of how we, as a community, embrace older adults and provide innovative solutions”.