Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the launch of the Age Strong Commission, formerly known as the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, at his annual State of the City address. The new name reflects the City’s efforts to make Boston inclusive, accessible and positive for people as they age.
“Boston is a community for every generation,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our older residents are the heart of our city, and we look forward to continuing to serve their needs and draw on their tremendous strength. We see, hear, and value older people in Boston, and will continue our important work to make Boston an age-friendly city throughout all communities.”
Under the Walsh Administration, the Commission has actively engaged the community to learn how Bostonians are aging now and what their hopes are for aging in the future. Those conversations reflect a growing trend and national movement towards inclusive aging language and actions, designed by the FrameWorks Institute, the research partner for the Reframing Age Project.
“How we engage our older residents is a social justice issue,” said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. “Words matter. Boston’s older adults are bold, strong, and vibrant, and its new name accurately reflects who we serve on a daily basis.”
The new name comes less than two years into the Commission’s Age-Friendly action planning, which has resulted in successful launches of: the City’s first pilot Senior Civic Academy; an interactive public restrooms map; age- and dementia-friendly business designations; an Employment Guide for people over 50; and a front-facing City staff training to educate employees on the needs of older people in Boston.
“The word ‘elderly’ does not define the people we serve,” said Age Strong Commissioner Emily Shea. “The people we work with everyday are so many things: experienced, vibrant, passionate, and most of all, strong. That’s how we want to feel as we age, and that is how we hope to be seen.”
In addition its name rebranding, the Age Strong Commission has redefined its mission and values in their updated website, www.boston.gov/age-strong.
“This new name ‘Age Strong’ acknowledges the strength of Boston’s human resources: the value, diversity and passion of its older people. Older Bostonians are an asset for this city. Their accumulated wisdom, skills and experience are examples of how we can all age strong,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president of corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan. “The name is also a call to action reflecting the critical and important work of the commission.”
“The City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission, like the AARP Disrupt Aging® initiative, is a call to shape the future of aging. We are all aging, every day. Aging is about growth, not decline. It creates new opportunities, not just challenges. Older people are contributors, not burdens. And each and every one of us should be valued for who we are, not by how old we are. I look forward to seeing the progress the Age Strong Commission will have on challenging outdated beliefs, so we can all choose how to live as we age,” said Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts State Director.
For 74-year-old Barbara J. Defoe, President of the Mayor’s Senior Advisory Council, the new commission name is personal.
“I embrace the name Age Strong as it relates to the more mature citizens of our city,” said Defoe. “Age Strong suggests that we are the foundation of society, and have been the shoulders on which our nation is built. The name will be a constant reminder of the resiliency and power of all who have contributed to the greatness of the City of Boston.”
About the Age Strong Commission
The Age Strong Commission works towards making Boston a city that fully embraces aging. Our mission is to enhance the lives of people 55+ with meaningful programs, resources, and connections so we can live and age strong together in Boston. For more than 50 years, we have served constituents as a City department, Council on Aging, and a Area Agency on Aging. In 2017, the Commission launched its Age-Friendly Action Plan, which is the City’s blueprint to make Boston the best city to live and age in. Learn more about us at www.boston.gov/age-strong.