Division of Diversity and Civil Rights
Pacific Region & Pacific Southwest Region
 

Older Americans Month

Older Americans Photo

Introduction of Older Americans Month

For more than 45 years, the President of the United States has designated May as Older Americans Month. Each May, the nation has the opportunity to recognize the valuable and often inspirational contributions of our 34 million older Americans, their families, and caregivers.

Each year, a new theme is chosen. A recent theme was, "In the New Century....The Future is Aging," and spotlighted the impact which longevity has on nearly every aspect of society in the coming years—from our health and long term care needs, to our economic security, to our housing and living arrangements, to our retirement plans, and to our leisure time. To achieve and maintain quality of life in the older years, we must all anticipate a range of economic, health, and social needs and undertake our own life course planning.

History of Older Americans Month

When Older Americans Month was established in the early 1960s, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About one third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing, however, and in April 1963, President John F. Kennedy met with the National Council of Senior Citizens - which served as a prelude to the designation of May as "Senior Citizens Month".

Thanks to President Jimmy Carter's 1980 designation, what was once called Senior Citizens Month, is now called "Older Americans Month", and has now become a tradition.

Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, including those who have defended our country. Every President since JFK has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs and other such activities.

 

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Last updated: January 22, 2013

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