afaAgeism First Aid (AFA) is an online course designed to help change the common misconceptions and myths about aging that are behind the negative attitudes about aging and ageism by replacing the misconceptions and myths with facts that should be common knowledge. As part of our national campaign to combat ageism, AFA will spark factual conversations about aging and widespread use of affirmative positive aging-related language among people in the health and helping professions.

Ageism First Aid (AFA) explains what ageism is, how it develops during childhood and throughout adulthood, how ageism affects people of all ages, and how to avoid participating in ageism. The knowledge gained by completing the AFA course will help you interact more skillfully and effectively with older adults and it will help protect you against the influence of ageism that begins to affect us all from the time we are very young and throughout adulthood.

AFA provides basic communication training for people in the health and helping professions and prepares students and people seeking employment to communicate more effectively with individuals of all ages and diverse backgrounds. AFA will help you to be a more skilled and successful communicator in your professional and personal life and will enhance your professional credentials.

AFA is written for a broad audience, from high school students to professionals holding graduate degrees and doctorates. The course is written in clear and concise language and avoids professional terminology to support comprehension by learners with English as a second language. Audio recordings of the written content are provided to support comprehension and the entire course is Section 508 for accessibility by people with disabilities.

AFA is recommended for people working, seeking work, or training for these types of positions:

  • Paraprofessionals (home care aides, nursing assistants, etc.)
  • Professionals (therapists, nurses, social workers, etc.)
  • Faculty and students in the health, behavior, and social sciences
  • Volunteers, staff, administrators and executives of organizations, agencies, and institutions that serve older people
  • Advocates and policy makers who serve older adults and the older population
  • Personal supporters and informal caregivers of older adults (family, neighbors, etc.)

What will you learn about in Ageism First Aid?

Summary of AFA topics:

  • Programs and services available to older Americans
  • Work settings and professions within in the field of aging
  • Adult development, the aging process, and myths about aging
  • Ageism development and its connection to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • Basics roles, responsibilities, and strategies of communication
  • Specialized approaches for communicating with people of different ages, abilities, sexes, genders, races, ethnicities, and cultures:
    • Respectful person-centered communication
    • Effective person–setting–situation communication
    • Appropriate ageism-free language
    • Reading and writing about people in charts

AFA Acknowledgment Statement

The Ageism First Aid (AFA) project was initially funded by a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation through the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) Founders Innovation Fund and the AGHE Founders 3.0: Special Projects Initiative. AGHE is the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) educational branch. All three organizations are dedicated reducing ageism and aging stigma and improving the quality of life and overall well-being of older Americans.

The AFA course copyright is held by The Gerontological Society of America.

The AFA project was sponsored by the AGHE Academic Program Development Committee and is a product of collaboration among AGHE member faculty. Special thanks go out to all the contributors, including Tina Kruger Newsham, Joann Montepare, Becky Knight, and Laurinda Reynolds and the reviewers Janet Frank, Marilyn Gugliucci, and Carrie Andreoletti.

Publication Highlights Care Challenges of Dementia-Related Psychosis

It is estimated that over 2 million Americans with dementia experience delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear). This group of symptoms, known as dementia-related psychosis, may cause significant distress to individuals and their families. Although common, the condition frequently goes undetected in people who may be struggling with other complex behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.

A new publication from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), “Dementia-Related Psychosis: Gaps and Opportunities for Improving Quality of Care,” brings attention to the need for greater awareness of this condition within the medical community and better support for those affected.

“This new resource provides an excellent overview of an underdiagnosed condition that’s not well understood,” said Banner Alzheimer’s Institute Director Pierre N. Tariot, MD, who contributed his expertise in geriatric psychiatry to the publication’s multidisciplinary review committee. “It will be a useful tool for the research and practice communities to help us build a roadmap for better diagnostic clarity and better patient outcomes.”

A neurologist, a geriatrician, and a long-term care geriatric psychiatrist — Gustavo Alva, MD, Joshua Chodosh, MD, and Gary Epstein-Lubow, MD, respectively — also served as reviewers, as individuals with dementia-related psychosis may require care across various clinical settings.

Currently, there is no consensus in the medical community on how to diagnose dementia-related psychosis, which is clinically distinct from psychosis in other disorders (e.g., schizophrenia). There are also no specific International Statistical Classification of Diseases–Tenth Revision (ICD-10) diagnostic codes that would allow providers to document the condition in medical records, making it difficult to identify, monitor and appropriately manage symptoms.

The GSA publication seeks to fill a gap in the available literature by summarizing best practices for treating dementia-related psychosis and proposing improvements to advance quality of care in this area, including: the development of new ICD-10 codes, more research on evidence-based strategies for treatment, and the need for comprehensive care planning.

“Dementia-Related Psychosis: Gaps and Opportunities for Improving Quality of Care” was developed by GSA through an unrestricted grant from ACADIA Pharmaceuticals.


Visit GSA's webinar page to register or view archived recordings:

  • GSA/CDC Webinar part 1: "Health Literacy Considerations for Initiatives with Older Adults" (Friday, June 28, 2019)
  • GSA/CDC Webinar part 2: "Sun Protection and Sunburn Among Older U.S. Adults" (Friday, August 2)

GSA partnered with the Association of Community Cancer Centers and the International Society of Geriatric Oncology on a six-part webinar series on caring for older adults with cancer.

Annual Scientific Meeting Sessions

"Opportunities and Strategic Directions for Cancer Prevention During Older Adulthood"
Momentum Discussion at GSA’s 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting
Moderator: Mary C. White, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Panelists: Richard A. Goodman, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory University; Dawn M. Holman, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This session builds on highlights from a CDC-funded supplemental issue of The Gerontologist on “Opportunities for Cancer Prevention During Older Adulthood.” The papers in the supplement address a wide range of innovative topics related to cancer risk among older adults, including health literacy and communication, age discrimination, financial hardship, the health effects of natural disasters, sun protection behaviors, and preventive health services, among others. Research suggests there may be more we could do lower exposures to known causes of cancer, promote social and physical environments that facilitate healthy behaviors and positive attitudes about aging and cancer prevention, expand appropriate use of preventive health services at older ages, and improve communication with older adults about cancer prevention efforts. Among the many potential imperatives are what society can do to reduce cancer risk and preserve health as adults enter their 60s, 70s, and beyond; what societal and environmental approaches might help to shift negative attitudes about aging and cancer prevention; and how best to engage older adults and their families, caregivers, and relevant community sectors in these efforts. Panelists will lead a discussion of these questions and provide insights into potentially promising new directions for research and practice to expand cancer prevention efforts for older adults.

"Older Adults and Cancer: Building the Research and Clinical Care Infrastructure for an Aging Population" 
Momentum Discussion at GSA's 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting
Moderator: Harvey Jay Cohen
Panelists: Harvey Jay Cohen, Elana Plotkin, Peggy Burhenn
As a result of improvements in treatment and supportive care, the number of older cancer survivors is increasing, including many with comorbid conditions that complicate treatment plans. Frequently, because of the lack of research into the care of older adults with cancer and comorbid conditions, clinicians find themselves unprepared to assess and manage these complex patients. Older adults are often underscreened for cancers, the conditions are understaged when they are found, and treatment is often less aggressive than in younger individuals or not provided at all. This session will examine the relationship between aging and cancer, as well as ways that cancer research, prevention, and care can be improved for older adults. 
Supported by Pfizer. 



Pertinent Articles

Interest Group

Cancer and Aging: Advancing age increases risk of cancer. Simultaneously, age-related conditions may complicate cancer recovery and pose a lifelong challenge. The Cancer and Aging Interest Group brings together a multidisciplinary group, including clinicians, basic and social/behavioral scientists, public health practitioners, advocates and educators, to address cancer and aging across the cancer continuum. Together, we seek to identify challenges and opportunities at the intersection of cancer and aging and translate lessons from bedside to the community for older cancer survivors and their families.


reframing 2019

Join us as we challenge the “conventional wisdom” on aging with the Reframing Aging Initiative — a long-term 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.

Ultimately, this greater understanding will counter ageism and guide our nation’s approach to ensuring supportive policies and programs for us all as we move through the life course.

Read GSA's press release about the launch of the initiative and follow us on Twitter @ReframingAging.

Key Concepts: Why We Need This Work

While changing cultural perceptions is not easy, the alternative is to acquiesce to an unacceptable status quo that undermines our ability to build support for aging-friendly policies, necessary research investments, and the future of our every-generation-nation. Let’s change the 'conventional wisdom' on aging together.

—James C. Appleby, GSA CEO

Widespread misunderstanding about the aging process and lack of information about how older people contribute to society have led to pervasive ageism. Research by the FrameWorks Institute found that the public believes aging is synonymous with decline and dependency, and that the aging process is a battle to be fought.

Those of us in the field of aging know that “age is just a number” and that, with systems in place to support wellbeing in later life, our society can benefit from the longevity dividend offered by our aging population.

For a quick, two-minute overview of the key concepts behind the initiative, start with this interview of Julie Sweetland of FrameWorks Institute recorded at the IAGG World Congress hosted by GSA in 2017.

Read further to find out how you can change the conversation, be more persuasive, answer ageism, and influence public understanding to create a more just, inclusive, and age-friendly society.

Change the Conversation

 Reframing aging relies on tested strategies and evidence-informed tools that have been found to reduce implicit bias against older people.

  • Gaining Momentum:Learn how to reframe conversations about aging with this toolkit.

gainingmomentum web

Individuals: Learn more with the communications toolkit Gaining Momentum and the video series Reframing Aging and Ageism. Contact us with questions about resources, trainings, and technical assistance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Aging Organizations: To learn about opportunities for workshops and presentations to your staff, board of directors, or conference attendees, please contact Project Manager Laurie G. Lindberg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Funders: If you are a funder of aging programs and would like to become involved in this ground-breaking initiative, please write to Project Director Trish D’Antonio at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There are opportunities for local, regional, and national activities and programs.

Who We Are

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) partnered with seven national aging organizations to form the Leaders of Aging Organizations (LAO) to address the entrenched ageism in American society. With support from nine funders, the LAO collaborated with the social science research firm FrameWorks Institute to examine exactly what the American public thinks of aging. Research found that the public’s perception of aging is decidedly negative and antithetical to how most older people feel and what experts in the field know to be true.

Now that the research has been conducted and the communication strategies, resources, and tools have been developed and tested, the next phase of the work is underway. With the generous support of four national funders, GSA, on behalf of the LAO, has launched the next phase of the Reframing Aging Initiative. The four aims of this phase of the project are:

  • Build an infrastructure to enable broad dissemination of the reframing aging concepts to the field of aging
  • Engage the aging research, education, and practice communities to learn about and start using the reframed communication strategies
  • Provide technical support for organizations who complete workshops and trainings
  • Support state and local efforts to reframe aging locally

What We Can Do for You

  • FrameChecks: reframing experts review your communication materials and suggest ways for improving your messages with reframed language and evidence-informed narratives.
  • Workshops and presentations: Master Trainers provide engaging and interactive sessions on the reframing aging concepts, narratives, and tools for your organizations and conferences.
  • Technical assistance:  trained reframers help you fine-tune your messages as a follow-up to workshops and presentations.

Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

Funders and Organizations

     hartford 2019
archstone 2019   rrf 2019   scan 2019



Related Content


Toolkit: The Reframing Aging Initiative relies on tested strategies and evidence-informed tools that have been found to reduce implicit bias against older people. These resources are available in a toolkit called Gaining Momentum.

Video Series: aging fwa image largeFor a more in-depth examination of the research behind the Reframing Aging Initiative and a tutorial on how to use the tools, you may want to access the FrameWorks Academy video series on Reframing Aging and Ageism. This resource is free, but you must create an account and a login: Reframing Aging and Ageism

Advisory Board

James Appleby

The Gerontological Society of America

Gary Epstein-Lubow

Hebrew SeniorLife

Nat Kendall-Taylor

FrameWorks Institute

Nancy E. Lundebjerg

American Geriatrics Society

Nancy Morrow-Howell

Washington University in St. Louis

Al Race

Center on the Developing Child

Linda Schotthoefer

United Way of Miami-Dade

Nora Super

Milken Institute

Project Staff

Trish D’Antonio

Project Director and Principal Investigator

Laurie G. Lindberg

Project Manager

reframing 2019

Howard B. Degenholtz, PhD, FGSA, Social Media Editor of The Gerontologist, interviews authors about their latest work and research findings published in the journal.

Subscribe to the GSA on Aging Podcast Series on:

  Listen on Apple Podcasts stitcher subscribe button Subscribe to GSA On Aging on Pocket Casts RSS

The Gerontologist Podcast – Care Conferences in Nursing Homes with Dr. Gloria Puurveen

Dr. Degenholtz interviewed Dr. Gloria Puurveen at University of British Columbia about her research on people with advanced Alzheimer's Disease.  Her paper, “A Seat at the Table: The Positioning of Families During Care Conferences in Nursing Homes,” published in the October 2019 issue of The Gerontologist looks at care conferences, an important and often overlooked aspect of how nursing homes are run. The study was part of her post-doctoral fellowship. Dr. Degenholtz wrapped up the episode a conversation about the topic with the regular contributor of The Gerontologist Podcast, his mom.

Article (October 2019 issue of The Gerontologist) | Download the Episode


The Gerontologist Podcast – Robotic Pets in Dementia Care with Dr. Wendy Moyle

In the fourth episode of The Gerontologist Podcast, Dr. Degenholtz interviewed Dr. Wendy Moyle at Griffith University about her research using robotic pets for people with dementia.  Her paper, "She Had a Smile on Her Face as Wide as the Great Australian Bite": A Qualitative Examination of Family Perceptions of a Therapeutic Robot and a Plush Toy, published in the 2018 special issue of The Gerontologist on technology an aging, expands this work to explore the impact of the robotic pets on family members. After speaking with Dr. Moyle, he called his mom to see what she thinks about using robotic pets for people with dementia.

Article (February 2019 special issue of The Gerontologist, "Technology and Aging") | Download the Episode


The Gerontologist Podcast – Mindfulness Interventions for Dementia Caregivers with Dr. Rebecca Collins

Dr. Degenholtz interviewed Dr. Rebecca Collins about her clinical practice and research on mindfulness-based interventions. Her paper, The Effectiveness of Mindfulness- and Acceptance-Based Interventions for Informal Caregivers of People With Dementia: A Meta-Analysis, published in The Gerontologist provides a great meta-analysis of the effectiveness of these strategies for dementia caregivers. After speaking with her, Dr. Degenholtz called his mom to see what she thinks about mindfulness and acceptance based strategies.

Article (Published online on April 4, 2018 in The Gerontologist) | Download the Episode


The Gerontologist Podcast – Use of Cannabis Among Older Adults with Dr. Brian Kaskie

Dr. Degenholtz interviewed Dr. Brian Kaskie at University of Iowa about his research on use of cannabis among older adults.  He published a Policy Studies paper, The Increasing Use of Cannabis Among Older Americans: A Public Health Crisis or Viable Policy Alternative? and has had several additional papers on this important topic.  After having a fascinating and wide ranging conversation as befits the topic with Dr. Kaskie, Dr. Degenholtz called his mom for her opinion!  

You can learn more about Dr. Kaskie's research on his project website.

Policy Studies Article: The Increasing Use of Cannabis Among Older Americans: A Public Health Crisis or Viable Policy Alternative? (December 2017 issue of The Gerontologist)

Measurement Article: Measuring Attitudes Toward Medical and Recreational Cannabis Among Older Adults in Colorado (Published online on May 14, 2019 in The Gerontologist)

Download the Episode


The Gerontologist Podcast – Homeless for the First Time with Dr. Victoria Burns

Dr. Degenholtz interviewed Dr. Victoria Burns about her paper, Homeless for the First Time in Later Life. She shared her motivation for this line of research. She also discussed a fascinating documentary project she is working that brings to life the stories of homeless older adults in Calgary.  You can learn more about "Beyond Housing" on the StoryHive website.

Article (April 2019 issue of The Gerontologist) | Download the Episode


The GSA on Aging Podcast Series is supported by the GSA Innovation Fund.


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