The Reframing Aging Initiative (RAI), a long-term social change endeavor designed to improve the public’s understanding of aging and the ways that older people contribute to society, has released “Communication Best Practices: Reframing Aging Initiative Guide to Telling a More Complete Story of Aging.”
Drawing from RAI research on ways to increase the public’s understanding of aging, this new guide will influence nation-wide narratives about aging. Thanks to RAI advocacy, the American Psychological Association, the Associated Press, and the American Medical Association are already promoting similar guidance in their widely used publication style guides, used by journalists, communicators, and more than 1,000 scholarly journals in more than 100 academic disciplines.
“I’m so proud of this new guide which will advance more constructive and inclusive language about aging,” said RAI Project Director Patricia D’Antonio, BSPharm, MS, MBA, BCGP, the vice president for policy and professional affairs at The Gerontological Society of America (GSA). “To ensure wide impact, all ten members of the Leaders of Aging Organizations collaborative are incorporating reframing aging and bias-free language principles into their work.”
The Leaders of Aging Organizations (LAO) collaborative includes AARP, American Federation for Aging Research, American Geriatrics Society, American Society on Aging, The Gerontological Society of America, Grantmakers in Aging, LeadingAge, National Council on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging, and USAging. GSA leads the Reframing Aging Initiative on behalf of the LAO. The FrameWorks Institute conducted the research that underpins the Reframing Aging Initiative and this guide.
“We need to find better ways to talk about aging so that the public learns the whole story about aging, not just the incomplete version that focuses on dependence and decline,” said RAI Program Manager Laurie G. Lindberg. “Framing can make a difference in how people understand your message. Research shows that when these new frames are used, knowledge about aging increases, attitudes toward actions and solutions shift, and policy support for programs and funding grows.”
“Communication Best Practices” will enable academics, aging services providers, researchers, leaders, and advocates to advance productive language and avoid communication traps. It provides research-based rationales for these communication best practices, suggesting terms to avoid and wording to advance.
This guide is one of several resources available online from RAI, including the overview brief The Story of Reframing Aging and a Quick Start Guide with tips on themes to avoid and alternatives to advance. A new video series shows how to use inclusive language to avoid “Us vs. Them” and other traps. The website also houses the bimonthly newsletter Caravan, podcasts, and webinars.
Support for the initiative comes from The John A. Hartford Foundation, Archstone Foundation, RRF Foundation for Aging, and The SCAN Foundation. Additional support is provided by E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging at Rush University, Endowment for Health New Hampshire, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, NextFifty Initiative, Point32Health Foundation, and San Antonio Area Foundation.
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.
The Reframing Aging Initiative is a social change endeavor designed to improve the public’s understanding of what aging means and the many ways that older people contribute to our society. This greater understanding will reduce ageism and guide our nation’s approach to ensuring supportive policies and programs for us all as we move through the life course. Founded in 2012, the initiative promotes the use of proven communication strategies, such as words and concepts to advance and those to avoid, to tell a more balanced and accurate story of aging.