This content analysis examined 128 senior center brochures and newsletters to determine how older people (those 65 years and older) were portrayed. Findings indicated that portrayals of older people in this medium that targets older people and their caretakers exclusively were overwhelmingly positive. Older people were portrayed favorably in terms of health status, personality descriptors related to level of happiness, interaction with others, mental state, as well as body image and overall evaluation. In several other categories such as energy level and activity level they were portrayed neutrally, and not a single category was dominated by negative portrayals. In fact, any negative portrayals accounted for less than 0.1% of all portrayals for any given category. Older females in particular, were portrayed in a more positive way than females in other analyses of media and advertising, which found them to be under represented or portrayed as unmotivated, ugly, or helpless. Females made up 64% of the overall representation compared to 36% for males, which closely resembles figures for participation at senior centers throughout the U.S. Females were also portrayed as more physically active and in better health than males. Those using a physical aid, either male or female were extremely under represented when compared to disability statistics, showing an overly positive portrayal of overall health status. The data supports other studies that demonstrate a more positive portrayal in media specifically targeting older people, and an overall trend of improving portrayals of older people across all mediums. Positive portrayals like those exhibited in senior center brochures and newsletters can greatly improve the self-image and overall quality of life of older people as well as help to change negative stereotypes of older people held by the general population.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



Date Submitted


Document Type





Portrayal of older people in senior center brochures and newsletters, portrayal of older people, older people in advertising, senior center brochures and newsletters



Included in

Communication Commons