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Ageism needs a global solution

Recognizing the value of our aging population
By Trish Barbato
Increasingly, the senior living sector is realizing that it needs to embrace innovation to meet the expectations of today’s and tomorrow’s older adults. Revera understands the need to listen to seniors and design a better aging experience. Trish Barbato, Senior VP of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, is driving Revera’s focus on innovation.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending and leading a couple of workshops at the International Federation of Ageing’s 14th Global Conference on Ageing in Toronto. It was an exciting event that brought together the private and public sector to discuss the exciting changes happening around the world to bring innovation to the aging experience. Delegates came from as far away as Australia, China, Botswana, the United Kingdom, Chile, and more.

For this global audience, the question wasn’t “what are we going to do with our aging population?” Instead, the focus was on finding new ways to think about aging, and how we can improve the lives of older adults so they can continue to lead fulfilling lives. Hazel McCallion, Revera’s Chief Elder Officer, received a standing ovation at the packed Ryerson Theatre when she addressed conference delegates on the importance of living a life of purpose and how at 97-years-young she continues to lead and find her purpose by serving others.
“Women particularly, and all seniors, are leading the charge to tackle ageism as they redefine aging.”
It’s a fascinating time to be alive. I was able to participate in a panel discussion led by the World Health Organization’s Senior Health Adviser, Alana Officer, from its Department of Ageing and Life Course. Along with a representative from Pfizer we talked about the incredible potential for governments and the private sector to come together and remove barriers faced by older adults. I’m optimistic that together we will start to see greater cooperation across all aspects of our society to drive meaningful changes. One of the most upbeat session was a design thinking session on How to End Ageism, where participants provided meaningful ideas such as encouraging media to show aging in a positive light, encouraging employers to hire older workers and the entertaining ‘Over 65 shades of grey’.

Women particularly, and all seniors, are leading the charge to tackle ageism as they redefine aging. At the same time, they’re creating a world that is more inclusive and appreciates the meaningful contributions of older adults. I was truly inspired by the amazing people who presented and shared their vision for an age friendly world, many of whom were already in their 60s and older.

Revera has made challenging ageism a priority. To dispel the myths of aging we began the Age Is More Film Project with our partners at Reel Youth. At the Global Conference on Ageing, we unveiled the Reel Youth Age Is More Cinema, where we showcased 34 short films produced by students that tell our residents’ stories. The theatre was packed during the showings and everyone I spoke with encouraged me to check it out, without even knowing I was from Revera. It was obvious to me that there is an appetite to hear the stories of older adults from whom we can learn so much.

Now that the conference has wrapped up and I have had time to reflect, I realize that I have never been more confident than I am now that we are on track to build lasting, impactful change. And that feels great.
Trish Barbato
By Trish Barbato
Trish Barbato is Senior VP, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships for Revera Inc. Ms. Barbato is responsible for driving a culture of innovation across Revera and for establishing Revera’s global presence as a preeminent, industry-leading senior’s innovation partner and investor.