5 Questions with Jill Vitale-Aussem
Our conference theme this year is “Living a full life is a risky business”.
Q1. Any thoughts you’d like to share on this topic as it relates to your work?
Aging services providers are notoriously focused on all of the bad things that can happen. We are so afraid of regulators, being sued and someone getting hurt that we can really create bland, lifeless environments. In one of my communities, we did something really interesting – a surplus safety audit – where we identified paternalistic, life-squashing policies and procedures. It was a very interesting exercise!
Q2. Thinking about your own life, what has been the riskiest thing you’ve ever done & why?
While it didn’t put me in physical danger, daring to find a publisher and write a book was an emotionally risky thing. I had to go outside of my “safe zone” and make myself vulnerable to failure, potential criticism, etc. I had to remind myself that the only time we grow is when we’re uncomfortable and challenging ourselves.
Q3. Thinking about your role as the CEO/President of the Eden Alternative in the USA what is the riskiest thing that we face as we all age?
The riskiest thing we face as we age is falling into ageist stereotypes. We believe what society tells us – that we no longer have a role to play or a purpose, that we can’t learn new things, that we don’t have value. Research shows that living with purpose, continuing to grow and learn and be a part of community is critical to our health. Those who buy into ageist stereotypes lives shorter, less healthy lives. Ageism is one of the biggest dangers we face.
Q4. For people older people and those of different abilities what is the riskiest thing for them, to be able to function well?
When people get older or are living with different cognitive or physical abilities everyone around them (especially if they’re receiving supportive services) is focused on safety and a risk-free environment. We define risk management as risk elimination and bubble-wrap people up to the point of suffocation.
Q5. Your workshop at EdeninOzNz 2019 will be on “A New View of Aging – Ageism, Ableism and Activism”
Please tell us a little about the topic you’ll be presenting and why it’s important.
Ageism is one of the last socially acceptable prejudices in our society. It has a significant impact on healthcare costs, longevity and quality of life and is at the root of many of the challenges we face in our field. Whether we realize it or not, ageism also affects each of us and the way that we approach leadership and the operations of our organizations. In this session, we’ll dig into ageism (and age-related ableism), learn ways to change our own mindsets, and identify opportunities to drive change.