History of Older Americans Month
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. About a 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. In April of 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens served as a prelude to designating 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 become a tradition.
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who 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.
Past Older Americans Month Themes
- 1978 – Older Americans and the Family
- 1984 – Health: Make it Last a Lifetime
- 1985 – Help Yourself to Independence
- 1986 – Plan on Living the Rest of Your Life
- 1992 – Community Action Begins with You: Help Older Americans Help Themselves
- 1993 - No theme selected (proclamation signed on May 25, 1993)
- 1994 – Aging: An Experience of a Lifetime
- 1995 – Aging: Generations of Experience
- 1996 – Aging: A Lifetime Opportunity
- 1997 – Caregiving: Compassion in Action
- 1998 – Living Longer, Growing Stronger in America
- 1999 – Honor the Past, Imagine the Future: Towards a Society for All Ages
- 2000 – In the New Century. . . . The Future is Aging
- 2001 – The Many Faces of Aging
- 2002 – America: “A Community for all Ages”
- 2003 – What We Do Makes A Difference.
- 2004 – Aging Well, Living Well
- 2005 – Celebrate Long-term Living
- 2006 – Choices For Independence
- 2007 – Making Choices for a Healthier Future
- 2008 – Working Together for Strong, Healthy and Supportive Communities
- 2009 – Living Today for a Better Tomorrow
- 2010 – Age Strong! Live Long!
- 2011 – Older Americans: Connecting the Community
- 2012 – Never Too Old to Play
2013 Older Americans Month Theme
ElderCompass encourages you to take part in the celebrations by sharing your Older Americans Month resolutions with the U.S. Administration on Aging. Post what you will do this May to unleash the power of age on our Facebook page, and follow up by sharing a picture or story about the experience later in the year.
While ElderCompass provides services, support, and resources to older adults year-round, Older Americans Month is a great opportunity to show special appreciation!
To learn more about activities and events planned for Older Americans Month, or to find ideas about what you can do to unleash the power of age, help our older Americans stay positive, active, and looking forward.