Despite increased awareness of well-documented negative social, economic and health impacts of ageism and growing sentiment to advance age inclusiveness, ageism continues to be prevalent across society as people experience discrimination due to age. Kendal recognizes that ageism is a form of societal bias that is unacceptable and must be actively minimized.

What Is Ageism?

Various narratives surround the aging population that often paint older adults negatively. It is not uncommon for the media to depict aging individuals as technologically challenged, inactive, and dependent on others. However, such depictions only serve to exacerbate the negativity surrounding aging.

Aging is inevitable, yet our society often equates it with decline, dependency, and irrelevance. In a TED talk titled “Let’s End Ageism,” Ashton Applewhite challenges us to examine our assumptions about aging. She explains, “Ageism is a prejudice that pits us against our future selves and each other. Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured,” she says. “It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.”

When it comes to ageism, society often falls short in portraying older people as dynamic and multifaceted individuals. Too often, they are portrayed as helpless, asexual, or isolated. These stereotypes can be internalized, leading to negative self-perception, increased anxiety, and depression. Through engagement and intentional communication, we can celebrate the diversity and resilience of older people and counter the ageist narrative.

Kendal Quaker Values

Kendal values emphasize treating each person as valued in an atmosphere of mutual respect and caring. These values inspire us to strive to create positive and realistic views of aging.

Kendal’s approach towards an anti-ageist outlook focuses on a fundamental respect for a person, regardless of age. As a tradition rooted in Quakerism, the term “Inner Light” describes a common spirit found in every person. The Quaker principle of equality rests on the concept of inclusiveness; hence, each person is to be equally valued and treated.

Empowerment in Practice

  • Implementing a Respectful Brand Narrative:

Since its inception and guided by Quaker values, Kendal’s brand voice has set the tone for positivity and inclusivity in all communications, taking a people-first approach using natural, positive language. 

Kendal does not use phrases like “over the hill,” “senile,” or “cute” to describe older people and supports language that respects all ages, without discrimination, while acknowledging the value experience can contribute.Kendal acknowledges that language matters and has created a comprehensive brand guide with a list of inappropriate terminology to avoid in all communications.

Kendal provides guidance on visual content to reflect respectful images that feature older adults in a positive light, showcasing their active lifestyles, technological proficiency, and diverse interests. Marketing depicts older people engaging in various activities and relationships—exercising, laughing, enjoying hobbies, working, and connecting with families and communities.

Kendal purposefully uses actual photos of residents, further dispelling the ageist narrative. The images show older adults as fit, fashionable, sophisticated, fun and intelligent. Such relatable depictions in marketing campaigns are realistic depictions of older adults as active, competent community participants.

  • Including Residents as Voting Members of Affiliate Board of Directors:

Empowerment of older adults who live in Kendal Affiliate communities and are members of Kendal at Home’s Life Plan at Home model is a wonderful example of age-inclusiveness. Kendal Affiliates are unique in that they are highly resident and member-driven. Residents and members at Kendal affiliates have agency and voice. They serve on the boards and committees that make many decisions about an Affiliate’s priorities. They plan activities and events that matter to them rather than waiting for something to happen. Programs, events, education, and trips in communities are organized and coordinated by residents.

  • Promoting Intergenerational Programs:

Kendal is committed to fostering an environment that promotes intergenerational experiences. Opportunities include having early learning centers on some Kendal community campuses, college musicians in residence, internships, attending university courses with college students, partnering with students on projects, and supporting strong connections between residents, members, and staff, among other things. Bringing together different age groups promotes mutual understanding and shared experiences.

  • Lifelong Learning Commitment:

Kendal is committed to lifelong learning, both on and off campuses. Residents can continue to engage in intellectual pursuits and explore new interests by providing access to continued education opportunities. A common misconception is that curiosity and growth stop as people age. However, Kendal shows older adults continuously learning new skills, taking up new hobbies, and participating in novel experiences. Emphasizing lifelong learning illustrates how older age is an enriching and fulfilling phase of life.

  • Advocacy Commitment:

Kendal advocates for older adults in communities and, more broadly, the aging field. In 1986, Kendal led the Untie the Elderly program, which resulted in federal legislation requiring nursing facilities to consider the impact of restraints on residents’ well-being. By advocating for change, Kendal empowers older adults and promotes a more inclusive society.

  • Person-Centered Care and Wellness Approach:

Kendal’s person-centered care approach empowers residents and members by aligning care with their unique needs and preferences. Wellness is prioritized by providing opportunities that promote physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The person-centered approach aims to empower the individual, involve them in meeting their needs and preferences better, and build positive experiences of care and support.

older man on cell phone and laptop

Ageism Awareness Day

Ageism Awareness Day on Saturday, October 7, 2023, is an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impact of ageism in our society and how we can reframe aging.  The American Society on Aging (ASA) developed various tools to combat ageism on Ageism Awareness Day. Click Here.

Kendal Commitment

Kendal’s commitment to addressing ageism includes implementing a comprehensive brand guide that stresses age-inclusiveness, including residents in decision-making processes, promoting intergenerational programs, promoting lifelong learning, advocating for positive change, and prioritizing person-centered care. Kendal supports promoting inclusivity and defeating ageism. In this way, Kendal exemplifies empowerment in practice.

A great way to see how Kendal’s values and practices play out in real life is by reading the 2023 Annual Report. Check it out.

About Kendal

Founded on Quaker principles and guided by Values and Practices, Kendal Affiliates include independently operated Life Plan Communities, a Life Plan Community at Home model, independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term care and skilled care options. Kendal Affiliates are in New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, D.C. Area, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California.