Massachusetts: Governor Healey Files Legislation to Rename the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to ‘Executive Office of Aging & Independence’

Boston ~ Boston - In a move to better represent and reflect the values of older adults in Massachusetts, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has filed legislation to rename the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to the Executive Office of Aging & Independence. This announcement comes during Older Americans Month, which takes place in May.

The proposed name change is part of the agency's ongoing efforts to expand its reach and ensure that older people throughout Massachusetts have access to necessary information, services, and support at every stage of aging. The decision was made after extensive research that included focus groups, surveys, and conversations with older adults, caregivers, service providers, and advocacy organizations.

According to the research findings, aging adults do not connect with the term "elder" and often associate it with someone who is at the end of their life. Instead, residents prefer neutral terms such as "aging" and "older people." Additionally, it was revealed that older adults highly value their independence throughout the aging process. Based on these insights, the agency has developed a new name that accurately reflects its programs and services while also resonating with eligible adults.

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Governor Maura Healey stated, "The Executive Office of Elder Affairs was established over 50 years ago as one of the nation's first state agencies dedicated to addressing the needs of older people. Today, our administration is committed to meeting the changing needs of today's older adults. I am thrilled that this name change better reflects those we serve."

In addition to renaming the agency, the legislation also aims to replace outdated language across state statutes such as "elder," "elderly person(s)," and "handicapped" with more inclusive terms like "older adult(s)" and "adult with a disability." The new legislation also incorporates gender-neutral language.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll added, "Our administration is committed to inclusivity and updating terminology to better reflect and respect our residents. By renaming the agency to the Executive Office of Aging & Independence, we recognize that everyone deserves to age on their own terms."

The modernization of the agency's name is expected to reduce stigma around growing older, normalize aging as a natural process, and emphasize the importance of independence and self-determination for older people.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh stated, "The new name Executive Office of Aging & Independence aligns with the values and goals of our older adult population. It reflects our commitment to supporting the vibrancy, independence, and dignity of our family members, friends, and neighbors as they age."

Along with the name change, the agency also unveiled a new mission, vision, and tagline. The mission is "Together, we support aging adults to live and thrive safely and independently - how and where they want." The vision is "We envision a state in which every person has the tools, resources, and support they need to fully embrace the aging experience." The tagline is "Your partners in aging."

Elder Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Chen expressed her excitement about the new name stating that it better describes the agency's work in a way that engages and excites older people, caregivers, and advocates across Massachusetts. She also emphasized that officially changing their name will be a positive step towards changing perceptions around aging. The agency looks forward to working with legislative partners to make this change official.

Overall, this proposed name change reflects a more inclusive approach towards supporting older adults in Massachusetts. It acknowledges their preferences for neutral language while emphasizing their desire for independence throughout their aging journey. With this move towards modernization, it is hoped that there will be a positive shift in perceptions around aging in the state.

Filed Under: Government, State

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