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ReFraming Aging Initiative

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Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Aging in America

GIA began work on the ReFraming Aging initiative in 2015 as administrative agent for the Leaders of Aging Organizations, which includes AARP, the American Federation for Aging Research, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Society on Aging, the Gerontological Society of America, the National Council on Aging, and the National Hispanic Council on Aging.

These organizations formed an unprecedented partnership to create a better public understanding of older adults’ needs and contributions to society, and subsequently to improve the lives of all people as they age.

Working with the renowned FrameWorks Institute, they commissioned original social science research into public perception of aging and older adults, with the goal of strengthening and improving communications about aging.

The project is funded by AARP, Archstone Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, The John A. Hartford Foundation, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Retirement Research Foundation, and the Rose Community Foundation. The project is managed by Laura Robbins of Laura A. Robbins Consulting, LLC.

To learn more about opportunities to join the ReFraming Aging initiative, please contact GIA CEO John Feather by phone at 703.413.0413 or by email, at JFeather@GIAging.org.

ReFraming Aging Resources

To date, the project has generated the considerable information resources below.

Gauging Aging: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Aging in America (2015) is the first report by the FrameWorks Institute, which lays the groundwork for a larger effort to develop a new, evidence-based narrative around the process of aging in our country and the needs and contributions of older adults. By comparing experts' views to those of average Americans, the report details a set of communications challenges to efforts to elevate public support for policies and programs that promote the well-being of older adults. 

Aging, Agency, and Attribution of Responsibility: Shifting Public Discourse about Older Adults (2015) is the second report from the FrameWorks Institute. Using Media Content and Field Frame Analysis, it compares media and advocacy organizations’ narratives about aging and older adults. and compares differences in how advocate and media professionals tell each of these narratives and assesses the impacts of these stories on public thinking about aging. A central finding of this report is that most information about aging in both media and advocacy is not organized as complete narratives, making these stories less likely to deepen public understanding. 

Related resources:

"Conversations with GIA" Webinar: Reframing Aging: Seeing What You’re Up Against and Finding a Way Forward (Webinar date: May 5, 2015) 
Nat Kendall-Taylor (Vice President for Research, Frameworks Institute) and Moira O’Neil (Senior Researcher and Associate Director of Interpretation, FrameWorks Institute) discuss results and recommendations that emerge from expert interviews and cultural models interviews with members of the general public, as well as an analysis of the ways that the media and organizations frame topics related to aging and older adults. Also presenting: Laura Robbins, Laura Robbins Consulting, LLC. Moderator: John Feather, CEO, Grantmakers in Aging (GIA). 

Webinar Slides

ReFraming Aging Collaborative presentation: Highlights from the 2015 GIA Annual Conference (October 10, 2015)
Presenters:  Jolene Fassbinder, MSG, MACM, Archstone Foundation; Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor, PhD, FrameWorks Institute; Laura Robbins, MS, MBA, Laura A. Robbins Consulting, LLC.  

Presentation slides

2015 State of Aging address by John Feather, PhD, in which he discussed the ReFraming Aging initiative. 

2016 State of Aging address by John Feather, PhD, also discussed the ReFraming Aging initiative.

The Pernicious Problem of Ageism: special themed edition of Generations, the journal of the American Society on Aging, published in October 2015 and focusing on ReFraming Aging. Featured writings from many thought leaders on aging, including John Feather and Laura Robbins.  

John Feather presentation at ASA’s 2016 conference on ageism and ReFraming Aging.