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Ryan Ellen, Professor Emeritus

Ellen Ryan

Professor Emeritus

Emeritus Faculty
Department of Health Aging & Society


Applied/Education Interests

Psychology of aging; communication, aging, and health; facilitating story writing and storytelling among older adults; writing, spirituality, and aging; aging with vitality; successful aging with a disability; narrative gerontology; meaning and purpose in retirement; fostering personhood in dementia and in long term care; mental health and aging

Research Interests

Psychology of aging; communication, aging, and health; successful aging with a disability; reclaiming identity through writing in dementia and other age related disabilities; narrative gerontology


PhD, Psycholinguistics, University of Michigan, 1970

MA, Linguistics, Brown University, 1968

BA Hons, Mathematical Linguistics, Brown University



Ryan, E.B., & Bannister, K.A. (2009). Ability speaks: Talking with a person with disability. Girona, Spain: Editorial Aresta.

Ryan, E.B., Jin, Y.S., & Anas, A.P. (2009). Cross-cultural beliefs about memory and aging for self and others: South Korea and Canada. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 68(3), 185-194.

Ryan, E.B., Bannister, K.A., & Anas, A.P. (2009). The dementia narrative: Writing to reclaim social identity. Journal of Aging Studies, 23(3), 145-157.

Savundranayagam, M.Y., & Ryan, E.B. (2008). Social psychological aspects of communication and aging. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 28(1), 51-72.

Ryan, E.B., Anas, A.P., & Mays, H. (2008). Assertiveness by older adults with visual impairment: Context matters. Educational Gerontology, 34, 503 - 519.

Jaffe, E.S., & Ryan, E.B. (2008). The Stone Angel speaks: Older women's
voices in prose and poetry. Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts, 2, 62-80.

Giles, H., Ryan, E.B., & Anas, A.P. (2008). Perceptions of intergenerational communication by young, middle-aged, and older Canadians. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 40, 121-130.

Ryan, E.B., Anas, A.P., & Vuckovich, M. (2007). The effects of age, hearing loss, and communication difficulty on first impressions. Communication Research Reports, 24(1), 13-19.

Savundranayagam, M.Y., Ryan, E.B., Anas, A.P., & Orange, J.B. (2007). Communication & dementia: Staff perceptions of conversational strategies. Clinical Gerontologist, 31(2), 47-63.

Savundranayagam, M.Y., Ryan, E.B., & Hummert, M.L. (2007). Communication, health and aging: Promoting empowerment. In A. Weatherall, B. Watson, & C. Gallois (Eds.), Language, discourse and social psychology (pp. 79-107). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ryan, E.B. (2006). Finding a new voice: Writing through health adversity. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 25(4), 423-436.

Ryan, E.B., Anas, A.P., & Friedman, D. (2006). Evaluations of older adult assertiveness in problematic clinical encounters. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 25(2), 129-145.

Ryan, E.B., Anas, A.P., & Gruneir, A.J.S. (2006). Evaluations of overhelping and underhelping communication: Do old age and physical disability matter? Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 25(1), 97-107.

Ryan, E.B., Schindel-Martin, L., & Beaman, A. (2005). Communication strategies to promote spiritual well-being among people with dementia. Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, 59, 43-55.

Ryan, E.B., Bajorek, S., Beaman, A., & Anas, A.P. (2005). "I just want you to know that 'them' is me": Intergroup perspectives on communication and disability. In J. Harwood & H. Giles (Eds), Intergroup communication: Multiple perspectives (pp. 117-137). New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group.

Ryan, E.B., Byrne, K., Spykerman, H., & Orange, J.B. (2005). Evidencing Kitwood's personhood strategies: Conversation as care in dementia. In B. H. Davis (Ed.), Alzheimer talk, text and context: Identifying communication enhancement (pp. 18-36). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ryan, E.B., Spykerman, H., & Anas, A.P. (2005). Writers with dementia: The interplay among reading, writing, and personhood. In B. H. Davis (Ed.), Alzheimer talk, text and context: Identifying communication enhancement (pp. 190-198). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ryan, E.B., Pearce, K., Anas, A.P., & Norris, J.E. (2004). Writing a connection: Intergenerational communication through stories. In M.W. Pratt & B.E. Fiese (Eds.), Family stories and the lifecourse: Across time and generations (pp. 375-398). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hummert, M.L., Garstka, T.A., Ryan, E.B., & Bonnesen, J.L. (2004). The role of age stereotypes in interpersonal communication. In J.F. Nussbaum & J. Coupland (Eds.), The handbook of communication and aging, 2nd edition (pp. 91-114). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Ryan, E.B., Jin, Y.S., Anas, A.P., & Luh, J. (2004). Communication beliefs about youth and old age in Asia and Canada. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 19, 343-360.

Giles, H., Noels, K., Williams, A., Lim, T-S, Ng, S.H., Ryan, E.B., Somera, L. and Ota, H. (2003). Intergenerational communication across cultures: Young people's perceptions of conversation with family elders, non-family elders, and same-age peers. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 18, 1-32.

Hagens, C., Beaman, A., & Ryan, E.B. (2003). Reminiscing, poetry writing, and remembering boxes: Personhood-centered communication with cognitively impaired older adults. Activities, Adaptation, and Aging, 27, 97-112.