Via the Coon Rapids Union Times:
This editorial is the third in a series on issues facing Minnesota’s aging population.
Deliberate rephrasing or rewording of public issues risks the charge of manipulation and deception. The suspected motive is usually political. Supporters of reframing the debate around aging issues gauged the risk and charged ahead anyway. The risk-to-gain balance came with the knowledge that wrong public perception can stop a worthy proposal in its tracks. They deemed crucial the work of developing policy, rebuilding the infrastructure, and recreating an innovative service system as Minnesota faces a major demographic shift. By 2030, one in five Minnesotans will be 65 years or older. In one year, 2020, there will be more residents over the age of 65 living in the state than all the kindergarten to 12th graders in Minnesota schools. Challenging widespread mistaken beliefs and negative views about aging and older people is an important part of the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Minnesota Department of Human Services “MN 2030 Looking Forward” effort. The policy goal of MN 2030 is to prepare and implement necessary long-term services and supports for a permanently older society. Reactions to the dramatic demographic shift range from end-of-the-world to apathy. The reframing efforts of MN 2030, supported by Washington, D.C.-based Frameworks Institute, advocate for truth and reality about the situation. Changing the narrative may seem insignificant. But studies have shown when negative messages about growing older are prevalent in a society, stress, depression and a higher risk of heart disease result. Conversely, a Yale study showed positive attitudes about aging could extend life by more than seven years.