The unique “Old People Are Cool” campaign sprang to life in 2017, the brainchild of Charles de Vilmorin, CEO and co-founder of Linked Senior, a “therapeutic engagement platform that delivers programs such as cognitive games and music therapy for senior living residents.”
Working in the field of senior care, de Vilmorin was all too familiar with the stereotypes that exist regarding seniors and those working with seniors, so he created “Old People are Cool” with two goals in mind:
This campaign has garnered international attention and success, with people all over North America getting involved. Clothing and phone cases, fundamental elements of the campaign, are used to spark conversation about ageism and highlight the lack of new workers entering the field of senior care, a growing epidemic.
“When people ask about the stickers, senior living professionals have a chance to talk about what they do for a living,” de Vilmorin tells Senior Housing News.
By starting the conversation about what the initiative represents, advocates can break down barriers and discuss serious topics affecting seniors with a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek approach.
The Old People are Cool campaign is refreshingly unique and forces us to question our preconceptions about aging seniors. Even the design of the website, a sly nod to Vogue magazine with similar fonts and other design elements is refreshingly unexpected. The purpose?To underscore the lack of age diversity within the fashion world – and society as a whole – and reclaim the aesthetic “in a way that is pro-aging.”
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The campaign’s manifesto uses powerful, anti-ageism language to guide the campaign. As well there is an oath that Old People are Cool allies can share — a promise to take an active role in combatting ageism and raising the profile of senior care. The campaign also encourages people to share reasons why old people are cool through their Facebook page, which was developed “to celebrate the many reasons why old is cool in order to promote a world that is loving, aging and united!”
Examples of people’s thoughts on why “old people are cool” include:
The campaign also features stories about awesome seniors who lead amazing lives, including Misha Volyanyuk, an 87-year-old surgeon born in Polish-occupied Ukraine, and Bob Shipman, an 89-year-old, music-loving veteran/ex FBI agent.
While the campaign is a great initiative for those working in the field of senior care to break the ice and discuss the positive aspects of their careers and interactions with seniors, does the campaign truly combat ageism and impact seniors themselves?
Well, there’s no question that the need to combat ageism exists. All you have to do is look around at the age-related stereotypes that dominate popular culture, such as television shows that depict older relatives as “doddering and feeble,” or movies that tend to ignore anyone over the age of 40.
Forbes published an article outlining this epidemic and noted that “the over-50 crowd that TV viewers are exposed to — particularly in commercials — are generally suffering from various forms of dysfunctional body parts… further solidifying the image of weakness.” With stereotypes such as these dominating our screens, Old People are Cool is a refreshing and welcome campaign.
Charles de Vilmorin does acknowledge a few minor hiccups, though, explaining “the phrase Old People Are Cool has been received positively on the whole, but some people have said they don’t like the term ‘old people,’ or don’t consider themselves old.”
Indeed, finding a positive label to describe people 55+ is an issue that’s plagued the senior living industry for years. However, criticism about labels like “old” and “senior” are extremely valuable and spark further conversations about what it means to age and how our society views getting older.
What do you think of the Old People Are Cool campaign? We’d like to hear your thoughts about the campaign in the comments below.