Here's how we can change the way we relate and think about aging, especially during the climate crisis. (Spoiler: A safer and more connected future heading your way!)
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
After meeting top experts in the field of aging and elder care at an awards ceremony hosted by Justice in Aging, an organization in the United States that fights senior poverty through law, we learned that even the experts are struggling to understand how to loop climate justice into their policy decisions. So, how do we grow old in a warming world?
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
This is relevant to you for one of three reasons: 1) You’re an older adult; 2) You care about an older adult OR 3) You’re going to be in one of those categories in the next decade.
We're at a significant crossroads, and we must ask ourselves how to get creative about the world we want our future selves and our current elders to live in! We are all getting old, and we personally want to do it in style. Here's to a resilient, healthy, and happy future!
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
Here are some quick facts on why aging is becoming a crisis instead of a natural thing we all do, and how that’s exacerbated by climate change.
Let’s start with this 2019 New York Times article on how older people are contributing to and suffering from climate change.
Elderly people will be disproportionately affected by:
The good news:
Most of us care about the same things. We have WAY more allies than we think. Most importantly, we all deserve to live our best lives with our best friends on the best planet, regardless of how old we are.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
In a lot of Western countries, individualism is prioritized over collective interests. It's resulted in many of the problems we covered previously, especially when it comes to aging.
Architect and cohousing expert Grace Kim is here to remind us why we need each other! Her TED talk, How cohousing can make us happier (and live longer) is the bright optimism we need in our lives these days.
You’ll learn that:
She even has a resource list with an article specific to senior cohousing. Most cohousing projects emphasize multigenerational living, and her resources section gives us a bunch of ideas for where to go next.
The best part about cohousing is… you can start today. You don't have to move anywhere! Just arrange one night a week where you cook for your neighbor/friend and vice versa. See where it leads you! We’re so curious to see where your community adventures take you.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
Ready to change the world into a place we can be excited to grow up and grow old in? Here’s a starting point!
1. Make a disaster plan—for yourself and for at least one older person you know.
Most of us know we “should” plan for emergencies, but we don’t even have our immediate next steps! So, start with making a plan. We made you this checklist. It’s adapted from FEMA in the United States, but many of the prep steps apply globally—except for scenarios like “active shooter plan.” 🤡 You can also host your own IRL or virtual planning party for your friends, family, elders, and youngins!
2. Get involved with mutual aid.
Community and connection will save us over the next few years (decades?). Mutual aid is a fancy term for “helping each other,” and it’s especially powerful in filling in gaps where the government can’t or won’t provide a strong social safety net. You can search “mutual aid near me” or “cooling sites” to get involved. This can be as simple as passing out water bottles to unhoused people (many of whom are generally older adults)! Even if you find an hour of free time, you can get a walk-in and do something for your community.
3. Donate $25 to Choice in Aging.
It’s time to 2x our impact again! When you donate through Soapbox (either @soapboxproject on Venmo or paypal.me/soapboxproject), we’re able to reach out to one of our community members who can secure a 2x match through the company they work at. The work that Choice in Aging does is so specific, dignity-centric, and high-impact! One of their programs “is unique in that it provides nursing, physical, speech, and occupational therapies, social work, transportation, and a healthy meal. Most importantly, the program provides a sense of community all disguised as FUN, while giving caregivers and their families much-needed respite.” Learn more about Choice in Aging here
Remember that even having a simple conversation with an older adult (or with anyone really) can be a life-changing source of connection. Asking someone if they want to sit at your table can feel weird in today’s individualistic society, but you can make so many friends that way!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
When you take meaningful actions towards social and environmental justice, YOU are building a better world. That’s exactly what the Village Movement encourages!
The Village Movement is a magical reimagination of how life can be. Basically, an overwhelming majority of adults want to stay in their homes and communities as they grow older. (Big surprise, right?) It can be really hard to do that, especially in countries and cultures that don’t support intergenerational living, upstream healthcare, and all the good stuff that makes this simple.
So, the Village Movement connects older adults with community members, guidance, resources, and more to enable “older adults to live independent, healthy, purposeful lives with connections to their communities.”
Here are some awesome things the Village Movement does:
Basically, volunteers join the Village Movement to create a powerful network of reciprocal services. We are all growing older every day—what if we could age knowing that someone will take care of us the same way we’re stepping up right now? Learn more about the Village Movement at their website here. Join! Volunteer! Find a Village near you and share it with someone you care about!
We’re going to end with a different vision for the future—one that’s already in place. Because you matter. You're important to this world, in the past, in the present, and in the future, even when you have a hard time taking care of yourself. We're meant to grow old together, so join us in dreaming of a better, safer, more connected future.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!