Approaches – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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  • 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 as well as the other inequities in our society, which 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 as well as whether or not we even reach older adulthood—and if we do, what kind of quality of life we can expect.  

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, seeking equity in the aging sector of services, as well as justice in every other facet of life, including health care, education, transportation, housing, workforce participation, and the broader economy, the criminal legal system, greenspace, and more.  

Focus on structural inequities: 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 these ageist narratives and attitudes, as these 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. Also, we are all aging all of the time, so conversations about aging are not limited to older adults, but all of us considering our place in advancing aging equity and the type of society we want, including the conditions in which we may provide care for loved ones and how 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 for the benefit of all of us 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 change the systems and policies that are not supporting aging equity across the life course—and to transform them such that they do support aging equity. Making progress on social determinants of health and aging equity requires building power for health equity as well as dismantling and redressing structural inequities. That’s why we’ve launched Illinois Aging Together, a statewide movement for aging equity. Learn more and get involved here.