Gaining Momentum

A FrameWorks Communications Toolkit

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The way Americans currently think about aging creates obstacles to productive practices and policies. How can the field of aging help build a better understanding of aging, ageism, and what it will take to create a more age-integrated society?

To answer this question, a group of leading national aging organizations and funders commissioned the FrameWorks Institute to conduct a Strategic Frame Analysis®, an empirical investigation into the communications aspects of aging issues. In this toolkit, you’ll find this original research as well as a variety of materials to help you apply it. If you use communications to make the case for adapting society to the needs of an aging population, the evidence-based insights here will be useful to you.

You’ll notice that the materials here are primarily designed to build framing concepts and skills. You won’t find “turnkey” handouts that are ready to print, but rather, examples and guidelines that help you work more intentionally and strategically to advance the conversation about older people in the United States.

Sharing and telling a common story is part of what it takes for a movement to drive major and meaningful social change. We invite you to begin to use these framing recommendations in your work, learn more about them, and share them with others working to create a more equal, more inclusive society. Download these social share tiles to help build the movement.

The Big Picture

These materials offer a succinct overview of how to talk about aging-related topics.


Quick Start Guide

Take a quick tour of communications themes to avoid and alternatives to advance.


Frame Brief

A frame brief that lays out an approach to changing public thinking about aging in America.

Anticipating Public Thinking

Public thinking is like a swamp – and it can be hard to get your messages through.
With a map, you can navigate it.


The Swamp

Visual summary of relevant findings from cultural models research.


The Swamp Drop

Go through our interactive swamp drop to learn how to use productive frames in your communications.


"You Say...They Think" Chart

Anticipate how messages go astray—and see how to keep them on track.



Stay on message in the face of tough questions.

Sample Communications

These materials model how to apply the tested frame elements to your communications.


Facebook Posts

Twitter Exercise

Communications Tools

Helpful communications assets when talking about aging.


Reframe Cards

Download printable cards summarizing tested frame elements.

Research Base

Watch this presentation on the research that informs this toolkit.

FrameWorks recommendations are based on the findings of an extensive multi-method study that queried more than 10,400 Americans on aging issues. You can learn more about the research in these reports.

Gauging Aging: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Aging in America (2015)
This study compares experts' views to those of average Americans and highlights ways to improve communications based on the analysis.

Aging, Agency, and Attribution of Responsibility: Shifting Public Discourse about Older Adults (2015)
This study analyzes media and advocacy organizations’ narratives about aging and older people, identifies dominant themes and frames, and assesses the impacts of these stories on public thinking about aging.

Finding the Frame: An Empirical Approach to Reframing Aging and Ageism (2017)
This report outlines an evidence-based reframing strategy and details the research methods and findings behind it.

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Ageism in America: Reframing the Issue and Impacts
This special issue of Generations, the journal of the American Society on Aging, brings together research on ageism, policy directions, and related framing considerations.

You are warmly encouraged to adopt this toolkit’s framing recommendations (values, metaphors, narratives, etc.) in public-facing communications. There is no need to cite FrameWorks in such instances. For other uses – such as training other communicators to use these strategies – please see FrameWorks terms of use and seek the appropriate permissions.

Reframing Aging is an initiative of the Leaders of Aging Organizations, a group of eight national aging-focused organizations. This coalition includes AARP, the American Federation for Aging Research, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Society on Aging, The Gerontological Society of America, Grantmakers in Aging, the National Council on Aging, and the National Hispanic Council on Aging.
Funding for the initiative has been provided by AARP, Archstone Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Endowment for Health, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation, The Retirement Research Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, and The SCAN Foundation.
The project is managed by Laura Robbins of Laura A. Robbins Consulting, LLC.

FrameWorks Institute • Washington, DC 20005 •