Health Literacy

Did You Know?

It is estimated that only 1 in 10 adults have proficient skills in health literacy.  

Health Literacy is a social determinant of health.   

Older adults are the highest at-risk group for having only basic or below basic health literacy skills

What is Health Literacy?

man looking at prescription pills by a computer

Health Literacy is often thought of as an individual’s ability to obtain, process, understand and make decisions based on health information.   Yet, we are finding that it is far more complex than simply an individual’s ability.  We must also consider the complexities or demands that health systems and organizations place on individuals. 

In the Healthy People 2030 national objectives for “health professionals and others committed to improving health and well-being address public health priorities", an expanded definition of health literacy was proposed (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion). It included the following: 

Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. 

Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. 

Health Literacy Education Initiatives

The Gerontology Institute is committed to providing quality health literacy education for individuals serving older adults and caregivers.   We offer a variety of presentations, workshops, and trainings to empower individuals, professionals and organizations to become health literate.  

The 5 C's of Health Literacy for Home Health Aide

Health literacy plays an important role in providing effective services for clients and patients. It’s so much more than just about a person’s ability to read and understand health-related information. This one-hour training will cover what health literacy is and why communicating more effectively makes your job easier and improves outcomes for those in your care. 


Our Gerontology Programs Manager in collaboration with Ednita Wright, PhD, LMSW, CASAC,  took an opportunity to discuss the RESPECT Model in relationship to cross cultural communication and improving low health literacy.  

Health Literacy Workshops, Presentations, & More

We have developed and facilitate learning opportunities for organizations or groups that works  with older adults related to health literacy topics.  

Health Literacy FLGEC Video Library

 A library for students and professionals to improve health literacy awareness and universal precaution strategies for improving outcomes through health literate competencies.  

This project is sponsored by the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program # U1QHP28738.  This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors/speakers and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, DHHS, or the U.S. Government.”

Health Literacy Collection of Resources

There are several excellent resources available for professionals and organizations that were created to improve our competencies in communicating clearly, educating and empowering those we serve. 

Health Literacy Education Training Pilot Program

A pilot program created opportunities for organizations to embed a health literacy  champion in their organization to increase awareness and build competencies to improve  health outcomes for those they serve.  Since 2018, over 1400 individuals in upstate New York were trained in  health  literacy concepts as a result of this program.