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Founded at Miami University in 1922, Scripps Gerontology Center is one of the nation's top centers for research in aging. With 19 staff and over 20 affiliated faculty and research fellows, we conduct research that makes a positive difference for our aging population. At Scripps Gerontology Center, we are steadfast in our commitment to impact, innovation, and excellence. As an Ohio Center of Excellence, Scripps Gerontology Center supports older adults, families, & aging societies through research, education, and service.

Is it Ageist?

Ageism is discrimination against people due to negative and inaccurate stereotypes based on their actual age or perceived age. Do not use the term ageism without definition. Discrimination based on age (young or old) is ageism. Because terms like seniors, elderly, aging dependents, and similar "other-ing" terms connote a stereotype, avoid using them. Terms such as older adults, older patients, or the older population are preferred. In the same way, using pejorative terms for younger people is also a part of age discrimination.

Referencing Age

When referencing a person's age, be specific and avoid additional adjectives like "young" (e.g., Carol is 67 years young). If referencing a population, include specific identifiers: age range, average age, or median age, if possible.
On second reference, or when referring to groups generally, adults are persons aged 18 years and older and should be referred to as men or women. Persons 18 to 24 years of age may also be referred to as young adults. Persons 65-years-old and older may also be referred to as older people or older adults.

When writing about a group of people who meet a specific age criterion (e.g., such as eligibility for a program or a research study sample), use "persons [XX] years and older."

• John Smith, 63, discussed the benefits of exercise for older Americans.
• The research study included people aged 75 to 84.
• Miami researchers recruited adults aged 18 to 24 to participate in the upcoming trials.

To capture an age-based demographic, try using words like “older people” or “older adults.” Use titles that reflect life roles, like grandparent, community member, teacher, or volunteer, rather than age demographic.

Also, avoid pronatalist language that assumes all older persons are grandparents.


Seniors, elderly, aging dependents, our senior citizens, and similar "other-ing" terms that stoke stereotypes.
Neutral (older people, Americans) and inclusive ("we" and "us") terms.

Adjectives that are typically used for older people that can be marginalizing, albeit well-intentioned: spry, spitfire, fiery, cute, elfin. If it's not an adjective that you would apply to a younger group or person, it probably isn't appropriate.

Struggle, battle, fight, and similar conflict-oriented words to describe aging experiences.
The Building Momentum metaphor: "Aging is a dynamic process that leads to new abilities and knowledge we can share with our communities..."

Making generic appeals to the need to "do something" about aging.
Concrete examples, like intergenerational community centers, to illustrate inventive responses that address the needs of older people.

Tidal wave, tsunami, and similarly catastrophic terms for the growing population of older people.
Talking affirmatively about changing demographics: "As Americans live longer and healthier lives..."

Further clichés to avoid Leading a story with demographic shifts. Terms like a silver tsunami, gray wave, or rapidly increasing population suggest that we will be overwhelmed with older people.

Talking about aging as a civil rights issue. It suggests that when comparing ageism to racism or sexism, one might conclude that ageism is not so bad. Additionally, thinking of ageism just as a civil rights issue narrows its definition to situations that can only be addressed by litigation.

Being overly positive. Having examples of extraordinary older adults makes a point that aging does not necessarily mean overall simultaneous decline. Positive storytelling is important but balance is equally important.

Ageist Images

Ageism is everywhere. Ageism impacts everyone. Below are some examples of how ageism impacts everyone, regardless of age.

man posing in background with the overlayed words "Dear Millennials, Welcome to life. That participation trophy you would get as a kid, it doesn't work here."

view of woman driving with the words overlayed "My turn is coming up in a mile. Better slow down so I don't miss it."

Image of a Twitter post with the words "People born in 1994 now identifyfing as Gen Z because Millennials being treated like old people."

Image of a Time Magazine cover featuring the topic "The Me Me Me Generation: Millenials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents. Why they'll save us all By Joel Stein"

a small mint tin labeled with the words: Memory Mints for Senior Moments Extra Strong"

Our mission is to do work that makes a positive difference in the lives of aging individuals, their families and communities, and to meet the needs of aging societies.

We accomplish this mission through excellence in Research, Education and Service.

We have a history of visionary leadership

Portrait of E.W. Scripps

E.W. Scripps, who sought to “bring to the level of common understanding the whole range of human knowledge," founded the Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Problems at Miami University in 1922. For more than forty years, we remained in the forefront of the scientific study of population and fertility. In 1972, with an increasing expertise in aging related research, we became the Scripps Gerontology Center. We were among the first multi-disciplinary centers on aging funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging. In 2011, we were named an Ohio Center of Excellence by the Ohio Board of Regents in recognition of our work. With our centennial on the horizon, our accomplishments are the foundation for the boundless opportunities that lie ahead.

Annual Report


Dear Friends of the Scripps Gerontology Center,

It is my great honor to be named the 6th Executive Director in the 100-year history of the Center. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a glimpse into the future I see for Scripps.

As an undergraduate student at Indiana University, I worked part-time for the YMCA as well as the Older Americans Center. Jumping from serving congregate meals to filling in during euchre tournaments to teaching Arthritis Aquatics classes opened my eyes to the broader field of gerontology. In addition, I was fortunate to work on a research project that explored ways older adults could improve their balance and successfully recruited the members I met from the Older Americans Center to participate in the study. My interest in research continued to build, leading me to the MGS program at Miami University in 1995 where I was a graduate assistant for Drs. Bob Atchley and Suzanne Kunkel. I completed my summer practicum working with Dr. Powell Lawton at the Philadelphia Geriatric Center’s Polisher Research Institute.

I still had questions that I needed answers to so I continued my education with a doctorate in sociology at Case Western Reserve University with specializations in aging, medical sociology, and research methods. After graduation, I went to work for the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing as a research faculty member. For seven years I worked closely with Dr. Mary Naylor before returning to the Polisher Research Institute to work with Dr. Kimberly Van Haitsma on preference-based, person-centered care.

In 2014 I returned to Miami as an assistant professor. After securing over $2.9 million in external funding and publishing 50+ peer-reviewed articles, I was promoted to professor of gerontology in 2022. My work focuses on the intersections of preference-based, person-centered care for older adults living with dementia using implementation science theories, frameworks, and methods. I currently have funding from the National Institute on Aging IMPACT Collaboratory, which you can learn more about in the pages of this report. One of the nursing home communities participating in the IMPACT grant collaborated with me before I started the MGS program. I taught chair exercises for their residents and when I walked back into the community 30 years later it felt like my career had come full circle.

The future of the Scripps Gerontology Center is dynamic and exciting. At our core is the dedication to serve the mission of the Center to do work that makes a positive difference in the lives of aging individuals, their families and communities, and to meet the needs of aging societies. We will continue to collaborate with our aging network, state, and federal partners. I am committed to using Agile methodologies as a way for our teams to continuously improve their processes. Enjoy summaries of our centennial celebration along with other major accomplishments in this annual report. I welcome your thoughts, drop me an email at




Katherine Abbott, Ph.D., MGS, FGSA Executive Director, Scripps Gerontology Center Professor of Gerontology, Department of Sociology and Gerontology, Miami University

View Our 2022 Annual Report