Governor Healey Files Legislation to Rename the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to ‘Executive Office of Aging & Independence’

May 30, 2024

The Healey-Driscoll Administration filed legislation this week to rename the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to the Executive Office of Aging & Independence to better represent and reflect the values of older adults in Massachusetts. This timing is part of the celebration of Older Americans Month, which takes place in May. 

The proposed name change is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to expand its reach and ensure older people throughout Massachusetts can access needed information, services, and support through every stage of aging.

The name was selected following significant research that included focus groups, surveys, and conversations with older adults, caregivers, service providers, and advocacy organizations. This research revealed that aging adults do not connect with the term “elder,” and often associate the term with someone who is at the end of their life. Instead, residents prefer neutral terms such as “aging” and “older people.” Additionally, research showed older adults deeply value the ability to maintain their independence through the aging journey. From these findings, the agency developed a new name to more accurately reflect its programs and services, and better connect with eligible adults.

“The Executive Office of Elder Affairs was established more than 50 years ago and was one of the nation’s first state agencies dedicated to addressing the needs of older people,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Today, the agency has evolved to offer programs and services that support 1.7 million older residents and nearly 1 million family caregivers. Our administration is committed to meeting the changing needs of today’s older adults, and I am thrilled that this name change better reflects those that we serve.”

In addition, the legislation replaces outdated language across state statutes, such as “elder,” “elderly person(s),” and “handicapped” with “older adult(s)” and “adult with a disability.” The new legislation also incorporates gender-neutral language.

“Our administration is committed to inclusivity and updating terminology to better reflect and respect our residents,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “In renaming the agency to the Executive Office of Aging & Independence, we recognize that everyone deserves to be able to age on their own terms.”

Modernizing the agency’s name will reduce stigma around growing older, normalize aging as a natural process, and emphasize that older people value independence and self-determination.

“The new name Executive Office of Aging & Independence mirrors the values and goals of our older adult population and our commitment to support the vibrancy, independence and dignity of our family members, friends, and neighbors as they age,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh.

To usher in a new, more expansive, model for older adults aging in community, the agency also unveiled a new mission, vision, and tagline:

  • Mission: Together, we support aging adults to live and thrive safely and independently – how and where they want.
  • Vision: We envision a state in which every person has the tools, resources, and support they need to fully embrace the aging experience.
  • Tagline: Your partners in aging.

“The Executive Office of Aging & Independence better describes our agency’s work, and why it matters, in a way that engages and excites older people, caregivers, and advocates across the Commonwealth,” said Elder Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Chen. “Officially changing our name will be a positive step towards changing the perception around aging. We are grateful to the stakeholders who engaged with us during this process, and we look forward to working with our legislative partners to make it official.”