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Reframing Aging at #GSA2021

The Reframing Aging Initiative (RAI) and the principles of reframing aging played a prominent role throughout The Gerontological Society of America’s 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting, held Nov. 10-13! RAI helped kick off this year’s all-online event with a four-hour pre-conference workshop on Applying Reframing Aging Communication Strategies in Your University Program.

As a multi-disciplinary and multi-generational setting, the university is a perfect place to apply reframing aging principles, or frames. These frames have been shown to enhance knowledge about aging, improve attitudes about older people, and increase support for aging policies and programs. The workshop discussions explored the many ways that framing can be used to communicate more effectively on aging, ageism, intergenerational issues, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues, and other topics.

Among the key takeaways from the session were:

  • When speaking with university administration, talk about the business case for age-inclusivity on campus in terms of the need to maintain enrollment and to expand outreach to non-traditional students. 
  • Elevate the campus conversation on DEI by defining ageism, conveying its impact, and exploring the concept of intersectionality.
  • Review course descriptions and remove words that trigger implicit bias, such as “elderly” and “aging population;” even the term “aging services” can cause thinking about older people as “other.”
  • Be thoughtful about your role as communicators and role models.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of “apocalyptic demography,” where population statistics drive your argument instead of an explanation about systemic factors, social determinants of health, and “why this matters.”
  • Reframing aging principles are fundamental to the age-friendly university (AFU) movement, and well-framed language is critical for conveying effective messages about age-inclusivity.

Our all-star panelists did a fantastic job of bringing important issues to light. Panelists and the topics they presented on were:  

  • Tracey Gendron, Virginia Commonwealth University, an RAI facilitator, Confronting Ageism in Curricula
  • Shannon Jarrott, The Ohio State University, Reframing Aging for Student Community Engagement
  • Suzanne Kunkel, Miami University of Ohio, Reframing Research Dissemination
  • Carrie Andreoletti, Central Connecticut State University, Toward a Shared Vision: The Intersection of Reframing Aging and the Age-Friendly University

Nancy Morrow-Howell, Washington University in St. Louis professor and a RAI advisory board member and facilitator, kept discussions lively as moderator. And Laurie G. Lindberg, RAI Project Manager, provided an enlightening overview of the reframing aging research and principles. In addition, participants got to practice applying well-framed language to their messaging during two breakout sessions.

‘Increased Awareness and Tested Interventions’

In addition to the RAI pre-conference workshop, the issues addressed by the Reframing Aging Initiative and principles of reframing aging were the focus of several scientific sessions.

Kelly M. Trevino, PhD, Director of the Psycho-Oncology of Cancer and Aging Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, led one of the policy series sessions on Ageism: Outcomes, Interventions, Future Directions.

“Ageism is ubiquitous in our society, limiting our ability to capitalize on one of our greatest human resources — older adults,” Trevino says.  “However, the expert panelists in this session clearly showed that through increased awareness and tested interventions, we can reduce ageism and allow everyone to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of older adults.”

Throughout #GSA2021, scientific sessions explored the harm caused by widespread ageism and how to address those issues, including Ageism and Perceptions of Vulnerability: Framing of Age During the COVID-19 Pandemic; Structural and Individual Ageism Predicts Elder Abuse Proclivity and Perpetration; and Where to Start the Journey to Advance Age Inclusivity at Your Institution, among others.

If you registered for the GSA Annual Scientific Meeting, you still have access to on-demand content until Dec. 31, 2021. And if you weren’t registered, you can still register to gain access to the on-demand content until the end of 2021.Visit the GSA 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting Registration page for more information.



About Us

The National Center to Reframe Aging is dedicated to ending ageism by advancing an equitable and complete story about aging in America. The center is the trusted source for proven communication strategies and tools to effectively frame aging issues. It is the nation’s leading organization, cultivating an active community of individuals and organizations to spread awareness of implicit bias toward older people and influence policies and programs that benefit  all of us as we age.

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