An Interview with Dr. Julia Brassolotto

By: Aleah McCook
An Interview with Dr. Julia Brassolotto

The “Imagining Age-Friendly “communities within communities” project involves the collaboration of researchers with expertise across several fields of study. As an Imagining Age-Friendly Researcher, we asked Dr. Julia Brassolotto a few questions about her experience with the project and perspectives on aging.
Dr. Brassolotto is an Associate Professor in the Public Health Program (Faculty of Health Sciences) at the University of Lethbridge. She holds an AIHS Research Chair in Rural Health and Well-being. Her expertise and research interests are in health equity perspectives, care of older adults, and the use of philosophical frameworks. 
 
How should we imagine aging?
I would suggest that we imagine aging as a process of becoming richer in experience and wisdom, more textured in our identities, and more accepting of change and growth. In summer 2019, I visited my relatives in Italy. My father’s cousin Melchiorre, who is 84 was showing me some old family photos. There was one of him and his wife Batastina from 60 years ago. She said, “Ah, that’s back when I was thinner and you had hair”. He replied, “Yes. That was when we lived to be seen. Now we have become who we are” (it sounded even more poetic in Italian). I loved that idea of aging as a process of self-actualization and increasing attention to ‘what really matters’, a shedding of a need to meet particular standards or expectations, and simultaneously having a clearer sense of self and being open to new ways of seeing the world.
 
What does your disciplinary perspective bring into the conversation of imagining aging for cities and the communities within communities?
As someone with two degrees in philosophy and one in health policy, who now teaches in public health, I am not sure what my disciplinary perspective is! I think that the perspective that I have acquired from this combination of disciplines is one that offers considerations of ethics, stories, their intersections with systems and policies, and a sense of collective interest.
 
In what ways does studying promising practices advance our normative aims of age-equity and age-inclusivity?
Studying promising practices can advance our aims of age-equity and age-inclusivity because it focuses on what is working and what is possible, and inherent in that are momentum and inspiration (at least for me). By examining what is promising for others, we can learn from the wisdom of a range of communities. The insights gleaned from one jurisdiction can be catalyzed into uses in other contexts, and with local adaptations. During this Covid-19 time that is somewhat age-unfriendly, and in which the failures of our elder care systems are in sharp focus, looking at what is good and what is possible feels particularly welcome and important.
 
 
More about Dr. Brassolotto and her work can be found at https://directory.uleth.ca/users/julia.brassolotto

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