NCOA Empowers Older Adults to Master Aging

Fun and engaging program prepares boomers and seniors for
unprecedented longevity

ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today’s boomers and older adults will live nearly a decade longer than
their parents, with twice as many years in good health past age 65. This
incredible gift of longevity comes with both opportunities and
challenges, including how to make the most of these bonus years.

“Growing up, we learn the skills necessary to carry us through
adulthood—how to get a job, keep a home, and support our family and
community,” said James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council
on Aging (NCOA) and creator of the Aging Mastery Program®
(AMP). “However, few of us learn how to make the most of our bonus years
and how to prepare for the complex health and financial challenges
facing us as we age.”

NCOA developed AMP to engage boomers and older adults in this new phase
of their lives. The program addresses three societal trends—increased
longevity, rising health care costs, and a population of older adults
with unprecedented free time. The program combines three key elements:

  • Classes: The program is anchored in a 10-week core curriculum
    that covers topics such as exercise, sleep, healthy eating, financial
    planning, healthy relationships, and advance planning. The classes
    combine evidence-informed materials with knowledge sharing,
    goal-setting, feedback routines, and daily practices. Classes are led
    by expert speakers and are held at a variety of community sites.
  • Peer Support: Classes bring 20-25 older adults together for
    shared learning and encouragement. Participants take the AMP journey
    with one another and support each other along the way.
  • Merit Achievements and Rewards: AMP encourages and recognizes mastery—helping
    older adults develop sustainable behaviors across many dimensions. AMP
    also uses token rewards to incentivize small actions that can lead to
    big rewards.

AMP started in 2013 as a pilot in five sites. It has grown rapidly as
boomers and older adults enthusiastically embrace it. Today, the program
is offered at 120 sites across the country, serving more than 2,000
participants. Plans for 2016 include expanding the program to additional
cities and developing an online program to reach even more older adults.

“Our research results show that a majority of participants have made
positive quality of life changes after completing AMP,” said Emily
Dessem, Director of Aging Mastery Program Community Partnerships. “With
a graduation rate exceeding 90% and demand at pilot sites growing
exponentially, we’re looking at innovative ways to scale the program.”

Initial pilot tests with 500 participants in 14 senior centers showed
statistically significant improvements in:

  • Advance care planning: 54% of participants took action
  • Healthy eating habits: 53% took action
  • Medication adherence: 53% took action
  • Communication with health care providers: 42% took action
  • Participation in evidence-based programs: 57% took action

“Even more importantly, participants are almost universally telling us
that they’re having fun,” said Dessem. “For many of the graduates, AMP
is life-changing and inspiring.”

“I’m a boomer and when my generation was young, we thought we could
change the world, but we found that we didn’t have the knowledge or
influence necessary,” said Firman. “Now, we have a lifetime of
experience and the time to do so much more for ourselves and others. AMP
is designed to equip people with new skills and insights, so that they
can make the most of their bonus years and do more for themselves and
others—while staying healthy, financially secure, and focused for years
to come.”

To learn more and see a map of Aging Mastery Program®
locations visit

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a respected national leader and
trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging.
Our mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults,
especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community
programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering
with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the
health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn
more at
and @NCOAging.


Vanessa Sink
Public Affairs Manager