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Great Interaction to Break with Aging

What if we looked forward to aging?

Quebec is home to one of the world’s most aging societies. This situation is often depicted as sad and worrying. However, for a growing number of people, young and old, the quiet strength of seniors—rich in skills, experience, and knowledge—has a lot to offer and to be appreciated.

Listening to them would almost make you look forward to aging.

Addressing aging as a positive step in life leads to research for innovative solutions. To change our perceptions, attitudes, and discriminatory behaviours toward seniors, we must start by talking about aging.

This is the mission that GIRA, Grande interaction pour rompre avec l’âgisme (big discussion to overcome ageism), launched through an intergenerational dialogue between the general public, seniors, and scientists on October 1, 2021, National Seniors Day.

GIRA’s central hub is the interactive platform—co-built by communication students, researchers, and seniors—which presents fact sheets on the causes, impacts, and challenges of ageism (from the results of an action-research) and interactive quizzes. Seniors and young people are thus invited to learn about ageism, with the aim of changing their attitudes, perceptions, and behaviours in relation to aging. Social media platforms are naturally being used to fuel the discussion.

The Grande interaction pour rompre avec l’âgisme is the result of an intergenerational and intersectoral approach. This collaborative work is led by Prof. Dany Baillargeon and Prof. Mélanie Levasseur, with input from content collaborators Karine Bellerive and Carine Bétrisey, postdoctoral researchers. The project involves 38 bachelor’s degree students in applied communications, 6 master’s degree students in strategic communications, 7 professors from 4 universities (UdeS, ULaval, UdeM, and UOttawa) and 7 seniors.