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It’s Time to Change the Story of Aging

It’s a fact: We’re all aging. But that doesn’t mean we all think about it in the same way.

For some Americans, aging is a decidedly negative process. They see growing older as a time of declining health, increased dependency, and generally being out of touch with today’s fast-paced society.

But anyone who works with older adults has a very different view.

We see aging as a normal process during which older adults can remain healthy, independent, connected, and productive.

Two years ago, NCOA and seven other national aging organizations set out to understand how we can bridge this gap in how people perceive aging. With the help of the FrameWorks Institute, we researched the best way to “reframe” the story of aging. We wanted to know: How can we tell the real story of aging?

The results are in

FrameWorks’ extensive research for the project outlines the challenges we face in shifting people’s perceptions on aging. But a new communications toolkit provides practical tips and tools to help us get there.

Professionals who work in aging will find the tools they need to talk about aging in a new way. In FrameWorks’ testing, the messages in the toolkit were shown to reduce ageist attitudes by 30%. In the toolkit, you’ll find:

  • Frame Brief, which lays out a strategy to increase public support for policies and practices that create an age-integrated society.
  • Quick Start Guide, which outlines what concepts to emphasize and what to leave unsaid in your communications.
  • Sample Communications, which model how to put the new messages into practice.

Changing the way people perceive and talk about aging is not a quick or easy task. It takes all of us who work in aging using the same language in all of our communications. We encourage you to check out the new toolkit and think about how you can use it in your work.

Are you using the FrameWorks messaging at your organization? If so, please share your experience in the comments below!

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Jean Van Ryzin

About Jean Van Ryzin

Jean Van Ryzin is Senior Director of Communications for NCOA. She oversees NCOA's brand and external communications, including website, social media, digital and email marketing, and media relations.