In 1963, there were roughly 17 million Americans who had reached their 65th birthday and about a third of them were living in poverty. Concerns about the welfare of older Americans were growing but there were few social programs available to support them.
President John F. Kennedy met with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens in April of 1963 and this meeting led to the designation of May as “Senior Citizens Month”, which would become an annual event with the purpose of raising awareness of the problems facing senior citizens and honoring their contributions to our country.
Two years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act of 1965. This act took things a step further by introducing financial assistance and federal support programs for older Americans. It established the Administration on Aging (AoA), which was the first federal agency designed to address the struggles of older Americans. It introduced nutrition programs, transportation assistance, federally funded adult day care, legal assistance, and also paved the way to passing the Medicare program to offer health care to seniors.
Senior Citizens Month was later renamed Older Americans Month (OAM), and it has continued the tradition of celebrating older Americans and recognizing the essential role they play in our communities and our nation. Today, there are more than 46 million people in the U.S. who are 65 and older. This number is projected to increase to more than 98 million by the year 2060 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads this annual celebration and has chosen the 2017 OAM theme, Age Out Loud, to give aging a new voice—one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say. This theme shines a light on many important trends. For example, older Americans are now working longer, engaging in new activities, and participating in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. What it means to age has changed, and OAM 2017 is a perfect opportunity to recognize and celebrate what getting older looks like today.
Please join the SCSEP National Office in recognizing the importance of this growing segment of our population, helping to raise awareness of their contributions to our country, and celebrating their accomplishments so that we might inspire others to take action.
For more information about Older Americans Month, please visit the following pages
- OAM Home Page: https://oam.acl.gov/index.html
- OAM Materials: https://oam.acl.gov/2017/materials.html
- OAM Activity Ideas: https://oam.acl.gov/2017/activities.html
- OAM Resources: https://oam.acl.gov/resources.html
Please let us know in the comments below if you have any specific activities planned to celebrate Older Americans Month!