The agebuzz “#agingandamazing” Instagram campaign
It started with an impression of mine: While there’s much in the aging literature about the “invisibility” of older people in our culture, my own experience of being out in the world suggested a slightly different story: Today’s older adults are engaged, interested in the world around them and contributing to the well-being of their loved ones and their communities, just without a lot of fanfare. The older people I have met are not looking for celebrity or publicity; rather, they’re too busy going about their business and being integral to their communities to waste their time looking for the spotlight. They’re vital and vibrant, even if outdated stereotypes would suggest otherwise. In fact, I coined a phrase- “aging and amazing”- to capture my impression that, behind the curtain, there are innumerable older individuals living lives of meaning and value and that it would be wonderful to tell their stories and share their acquired wisdom.
I discussed this with my friend Jess Lorden (herself an amazing woman, who left a successful corporate law position to start an “encore” career as the executive director of a synagogue) and she responded very enthusiastically. In fact, she knew many such women she wanted to introduce me to! At Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, NY, there’s a wonderful group of older congregants who hum about the building, contribute to volunteer efforts and support and sustain both the synagogue and their broader communities with pluck, drive, and intelligence. And to my good fortune, I was lucky to meet many of them through 2 focus group sessions held at the synagogue in late 2018 and early 2019. For that, I am truly grateful to Jess, and to Shira Milgrom, the wonderful Co-Rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami.
Among the amazing women we met: an 88-year-old meditation teacher, an 81-year-old nurse who’s a first responder for rape victims in the emergency room, an 85-year-old retired educator passionately involved in, and lobbying on behalf of, the League of Women Voters and a 72 -year-old retired intellectual property attorney who now teaches math at a university and who’s become an internet sensation for her strength and drive at a local Crossfit gym. None of these women would describe themselves as “amazing”- they’re too modest and too busy going about their lives to boast about themselves. But their work and wisdom are critical to the communities they serve, and their experiences in life- both the ups and the downs- provide valuable lessons for us all as we grapple with what it means to be growing older in today’s world.
Over the coming months, you’ll get to meet many older individuals through a new agebuzz Instagram campaign, Aging and Amazing (#agingandamazing). Follow us on the agebuzz Instagram page and you, too, will come to understand how older people today can be truly amazing!
And if you’d like to nominate an amazing person to be included in this Instagram campaign, we’d welcome your suggestions! Please email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(with special thanks to agebuzz Editor Karen Applebome and Social Media Advisor Kristina Gabler for their help on this project!)