Last week the PBS site Next Avenue announced its 2016 list of 50 Influencers in Aging. The people on it are remarkable, so it was an incredible honor to not only join them but be named the Influencer of the Year. (Last year’s was Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal; here’s a post about why his work is so important.) “Influencer of the Year” is a pretty great title, but what it represents is even more exciting: mainstream acknowledgement that if we want to improve conditions for olders in any domain, it’s time to confront ageism. Further corroboration: fully 25% of the other influencers—including Becca Levy and Jay Olshansky, both of whose research I have long relied upon—also named ageism as their top priority.
The list makes good browsing. Each candidate was asked to answer this question: If you could change one thing about aging in America, what would it be? I wrote, “Help catalyze a social movement to raise awareness of ageism that would transform the experience of aging in America by making discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as racism and sexism. We would no longer see aging as a problem to be ‘fixed’ or a disease to be ‘cured,’ but for what it is: a powerful, natural, lifelong process that connects us all.”