New ARC Civic Dinner Conversation Challenges Conventional Ideas about Getting Older
How do you square the following two truths?
One: Most of us have a negative association with aging, and as such, we don’t want to think about it much. Two: More and more of us are living longer than ever — and there are a lot of us doing just that here in metro Atlanta.
But we can’t plan for a future we don’t want to talk about.
That’s why the Atlanta Regional Commission has created “Reimagine Aging,” its latest ARC Civic Dinner conversation. Katie Perumbeti, the organization’s Lifelong Communities Coordinator, discusses why we need to talk about this issue.
1. Why is talking about aging critical now?
Katie Perumbeti: Because of advances in technology and medicine, Americans are living longer and healthier lives. But many of our policies and systems aren’t set up to support this reality, creating a gap. In metro Atlanta, almost one in four of us will be over the age of 60 by 2030. We need to acknowledge this — and plan for it, too. But that planning starts with changing some of the fundamental ways we think about aging, and tapping into our creativity to find innovative approaches moving forward. That’s where this Civic Dinner conversation comes in.
2. Civic Dinner conversations feature three questions. How did you decide what to focus on for the Reimagine Aging conversation?
Katie Perumbeti: Metro Atlanta is simply not going to make the leap of designing places that work for people of all ages and abilities until we confront the ways we think about aging. The questions we came up with really focus on that. It’s important, because when we’re biased against someone older than ourselves, we’re really being biased against our future selves. We have to learn that there is no “us” (young people) and “them” (older people), no matter our actual age. It’s all “us,” and we will all thrive when we recognize we’re a collective. So, let’s plan for that.
3. When we think of aging, it’s often as a negative. What about aging can be viewed in a positive light?
Katie Perumbeti: I think of the idea that as we age, we’re building up our experiences and our knowledge over time. You have this accumulation of experience you can share with others. And I often observe that a lot of people older than me are more confident in themselves. I mean, just think about how much you change and grow in the time after, say, your high school years. That momentum — that learning and change — as time passes, it never really ends. Aging is not all positive or all negative — it is experiential, and happening continuously.
Reimagine Aging…The Three Big Questions
1. Can you share a memorable experience of a time when an older person surprised you?
2. What is one bias you have or have heard about older people? And if you could reimagine aging, what would you want to say about older people?
3. What role can you play in changing the way older people are discussed and thought about today?
Here’s How to Participate
Anyone can take part in a Reimagine Aging civic dinner. Consider hosting a dinner with your church, community, or school group, or sign up to attend a dinner organized by someone else.