Alice listened and decided to change society. Will you do the same?
When Alice Fisher received her MSW from Hunter College at 59 years of age, she knew she wanted to be involved with legislation. After graduating with a degree focused on community organizing, she joined the staff of New York State Senator Liz Krueger as Director of Community Outreach. One of the hats Alice wore in the Senator’s office was as government liaison to the older adults in the district, where she became exposed to stories about the difficulties of living as an older person.
She met constituents in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond who were struggling to have any semblance of quality-of-life. She heard stories about children looking after parents who were concerned for their medical bills, and people, primarily women, who were living in poverty.
In addition, Alice and her husband had their own elderly parents to attend to. All these stories hit home when her dad asked her one day what would have happened to him if she did not have the connections she had to the senior world of NYC. It was those connections that helped her secure a place for her parents in a first-rate nursing facility, although she knew that the rest of their savings would go to their care. This required her and her sister to dig into their own pockets to assure that their parents would receive the best of care.
Wondering how her parents could have survived without the family’s assistance, the Radical Age Movement was born.
The Radical Age Movement is a non-profit organization focused on fighting ageism in our society. “Ageism is the primary factor that marginalizes older people,” says Alice. “I realized I was guilty of ageism myself every time I thought I couldn’t do something because I was too old.”
Through a three-pronged strategy including education, consciousness raising and social action, Alice’s organization seeks to change the conversation around age. “Ageism prevents people from continuing to be independent, contributing members to society. Yet countless studies around the world show that older people can make a significant, positive impact on a country’s economy.”
Because Alice knew that family is especially important to the care of the elderly, she has developed an intergenerational following for her movement. She leverages her intergenerational friends and contacts to build awareness of the issues facing older people and the Radical Age movement. She has also reached out to students studying social work to get them involved in her activities from handling social networking online to logistics of her outreach programs. Even her own family is involved. Her husband, Jon, serves on Alice’s advisory board as well as handles publicity while her granddaughter is helping manage the Radical Age website.
Alice’s work and life experiences gave her the inspiration to start the Radical Age Movement while her friends, family and colleagues have helped her build it into an important catalyst for change. What will be your inspiration for taking action and starting a movement?
For more information, see www.radicalagemovement.org.
Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong