Enhancing Age and Ability Inclusion: A Toolkit to support your senior living community to:
- Raise awareness of ageism in senior living environments
- Raise awareness of ableism in senior living environments
- Assess your organizational culture and identify changes to promote greater inclusion
- Educate, train, and support elders, team members, and family members to create more inclusive communities and a greater sense of belonging
This toolkit has been developed to help guide organizations and individuals toward creating inclusive environments for senior living. Within this toolkit, you will find resources both for individual staff members as well as an organization-wide assessment.
Age and ability inclusion is a way of organizing social worlds and physical spaces in which people of all ages and physical and cognitive abilities feel valued as unique individuals deserving of recognition, respect, and equal access to opportunities and resources. It applies to people receiving care and services, the staff who provide care and services, and family members.
The core principles of age and ability inclusion are:
- Proactively counteracting ageism and ableism inside the organization
- Proactively counteracting ageism and ableism outside the organization
- Taking an adaptive and transformational approach that changes people’s priorities, beliefs, habits, and loyalties
Age and ability inclusion is about more than just reducing ageism (discrimination on the basis of age) and ableism (discrimination on the basis of physical and/or cognitive ability). It is also about:
- taking a person-directed approach that meets each individual where they are according to their unique strengths, needs and desires as a human being of worth.
- valuing the multi-dimensionality of each individual and their unique experience of their body, their mind, their social identity, and their spirituality.
- recognizing that aging is a highly individual experience that is shaped by the life history, experiences, and identity of each person.
- choosing not to make nor to act upon assumptions or judgements about individuals based on their intersectional identities, including age, physical and/or cognitive abilities, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or beliefs or any other aspect of their identity.
This Age and Ability Inclusion Toolkit for Senior Living was developed with the help of senior living providers as a resource for senior living providers by Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Gerontology, LeadingAge, the Eden Alternative, Pioneer Network and RRF: Foundation for Aging. This Toolkit comes at a time when there has been a growing recognition among senior living professionals that the problems of ageism (discrimination on the basis of age) and ableism (discrimination on the basis of physical and/or cognitive ability) need to be confronted within their communities.