Joan Ditzion

Share your Profile!

Joan Ditzion

LICSW, Self Employed
Educator, Co-Founder/Co-Author of Our Bodies Ourselves
Cambridge, MA

What drew you to the field of aging or gerontology?

As an original Co- Founder and Co-author of all editions of Our Bodies Ourselves over the last four and a half decades, I have grown up with the book and have been involved in all aspects of the evolution of Our Bodies Ourselves. Originally an art educator, the Our Bodies Ourselves project led and inspired me to become a social worker. I have always felt a synergy between the values of the social work profession and my personal/ feminist values. There are few professions which advocate for social justice, human rights, unimpeded access to services for everyone and always views individuals in their social, political, cultural and economic context. I graduated from Simmons School of Social Work in 1985 and fell in love with geriatrics through an internship and fellowship at McLean’s Hospital in Mass. on a geriatric unit. I realized I loved working with aging families and older adults since I came from a close four generational, progressive, Jewish, N.Y.C. family. I was also aware that given the demographic revolution that the aging population was expanding facing new needs, challenges and needing new services. Since then over the years my work; writing, clinical, teaching, workshops and advocacy has been informed by the synergy between geriatric social work and Our Bodies Ourselves work.

What is your specialty or area of interest?

The focus of my work over the years has been on aging women and aging families. I am passionate about combating ageism, the impact of external and internalized ageist myths and stereotypes on the sense of ourselves , the importance of care giving and the need to support well being and quality of life for all so that we can all age with courage, passion and purpose. The firsthand experience caring for my mother deepened my sensitivity forever to the needs of aging women. I am also an active member of the Life Planning Network, dedicated to a holistic, intentional planning for the 2nd half of life. As I age I fully embrace my sense of myself as an aging woman. Aging is a political process because we can’t age without encountering ageist attitudes. As I age I want to embrace the role of elder, to continue to challenge ageist attitudes, to have a sense of agency as I age, to age well with passion and purpose until my last breath and to find creative ways to be in inter generational dialogue and pass on my legacy to a younger generation and continue conversations to maintain the vitality of feminist, non ageist and social work values.

How do ASA's resources and education help you with your work?

ASA, as a professional organization, is an invaluable resource to keep up with current trends in programs, innovation, policy and politics in aging. The annual conference, which I’ve attended for years, is a source of inspiration, lifelong learning and great place to network among fellow travelers in the aging field . Generations, newsletters, website and webinars are always informative.

Follow the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging and Ashley on Twitter.