Ageism First Aid


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 Laurinda Reynolds, Tina Kruger Newsham, Joann Montepare, and Becky Knight, and the reviewers Janet Frank, Marilyn Gugliucci, and Carrie Andreoletti.

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